What Good Posture Does For You
In my conversations with patients suffering physical injuries, I notice that they are unable to pinpoint to a single incident that may have caused them physical pain. While physical injury may occur as a result of an accident, there is high and growing incidence of body pain developed due to poor physical function and posture.
As a physiotherapist and fitness enthusiast, I feel the need to not just heal physical pain but also establish a critical learning curve for patients to follow. This learning is what will prevent them from suffering future injuries and develop a strong sense of ‘fitness-first’ in all their dealings.
Growing up, we were always advised to ‘sit-up’ straight with our chin up and shoulders drawn back. Our conduct and body language speak volumes about our state of mind and viability at school or work. A good way to project confidence and convey our message with the right body language, is with good posture!
Sit up straight - I dare you.
Poor posture and weak body language usually translates and reflects in our work. A lethargic demeanor reduces your work output significantly and lowers your self-confidence. Poor posture at your desk not only reduces your body functionality but also starts to strain-specific points in your body, leading to increased pain.
People usually take neck pain or low back pain for granted until of course it aggravates and impedes their routine life. I have patients coming to me and proclaiming that they follow a strict fitness regimen and workout regularly, there is no way they should be developing body pain as they are constantly flexing their muscles and trying to be physically agile. I can assure you that while exercise helps keep your body agile and improves flexibility to a great deal, it is those poor postural habits that are affecting many young professionals.
We spend our day sitting at a desk and literally diving into the work screen in front of us. Little do we realize that a slouched position, a protruded neck and an exaggerated curvature of our back is causing a toll on our bodies. The underlying cause for most of us practicing poor posture is a fundamental lack of mindfulness when we are working. Mindfulness is essentially a concentrated effort in acknowledging our current bodily sensations and establishing a sense of the ‘present’.
Mindfulness enables better mind and body coordination, leading to greater overall stability and balance. Practicing mindfulness helps you be more aware and in better control of your posture. You can develop mindfulness through meditation or other cognitive therapy.
Adopting good postural habits improves muscle flexibility and increases our range of motion significantly. I suggest that after having undergone the initial phase of therapy for healing physical injuries, it is important that you continue to follow the next phases of rehabilitation as well. Remember, continuing to work on good posture helps build muscle strength.
Regular physiotherapy helps strengthen the core or the midsection. The core muscles constitute the pelvic region, back, and side muscles and essentially connect the upper and lower body. These muscles act as stabilizers for the entire body and more importantly the spine. Any form of mobility, whether it is walking, bending, stretching of arms, or nodding of the head automatically attempts to unsettle the core. In a sense, if you are engaged in an activity that is physically demanding, it helps that you have a strong core so as to maintain the right posture.
Apart from strengthening the core, you should perform a few physiotherapy exercises between intervals at work in order to keep the blood flowing to all parts of your body and also maintain flexibility of your working muscles. The best way to combat poor posture is to maintain a daily schedule of exercises you can accomplish every 45 min to an hour. You can program your physiotherapy schedule to fit in with your working hours. Simply add a 3-minute physiotherapy session 3 times per day to your worksheets. You could also access a few apps that send you a prompt or reminder to perform your posture correction exercises.
Adhering to a daily schedule will help improve your posture gradually and also adds to your self-confidence.
Try practicing these introductory posture fixes to understand how effective a few routine stretches can be:
Practice the Chin Tuck to combat neck pain. Scoop your head back so that your chin is tucking in to form a double chin as your neck elongates. Hold this position for 5 seconds. Regular practice will help ease the pain in your neck and build flexibility.
Another exercise that will ease the stress in your shoulders is the Shoulder Pinch. This is one of my favorite stretches as it relaxes not just my shoulders but my back as well. Simply stretch your chest as wide as possible so that your shoulder blades come together. You could hold this position for a good 10 to 12 seconds by placing a pencil between the blades and holding it steady. This is a good exercise to combat rounded shoulders.
The side neck stretch, chest stretch, the seated pelvic tilt, etc., are all good physiotherapy exercises that will relieve the stress in your body and improve posture.
Prevention is better than cure. Fixing your posture is not difficult. You simply need to get used to the idea and make it a part of your daily lifestyle. Think of it as a basic necessity such as running errands or paying your bills. A few quick fixes every now and then, and you are set for a lifetime of health and good posture!