Proper posture is important because it keeps your spine in a more neutral position that does not put pressure on bones, muscles, disks, soft tissue, nerves and other structures in the back.
Now I know what you are thinking already. “I practice good posture and I don’t need to read this.” Ahhh…but do you really pay attention to your posture? Can you honestly say when you sit down or take a walk that you are reminding yourself about your posture?
I bet the only time you really pay attention to your posture is when you sit up after slouching in your seat and then tell yourself, “I am practicing good posture.” Now think about all the times that you practice bad posture and don’t even realize it.
And you wonder why you have back pain? Look, unless you are a robot, you can’t practice perfect posture all the time. Whether sitting or standing, just try to be more aware of your overall posture.
But what can you do to practice better posture besides just sitting up straight?
One of the easiest ways to fall into a habit of poor posture is typing at a computer. Your hands reach for the keyboard which causes your shoulders to slump forward. This promotes poor posture and can lead to back problems.
Here’s a trick. Get a yard stick and place it across the center of your sternum just below your clavicle bones. As you are sitting and holding the yard stick (or you could have someone hold it for you) try to keep your shoulders from touching it. You shouldn’t feel like you have to hold your shoulders back either.
Good posture should always be comfortable. This will teach you to keep your shoulders from slumping forward and causing you to have poor posture. Practice this a few times with the yard stick. Do it long enough until it is reinforced in your mind and you are trained to keep your shoulders back without having to use a yard stick.
Also, try not to lean to one side while either sitting or standing. It’s so easy to just lean to one side and let your elbow rest on a table while sitting or lean your body weight to one side while standing in one place. These tiny shifts albeit small and seemingly insignificant put a gradual strain on the muscles, ligaments and vertebrae in your back.
You can also analyze your own posture while sitting in front of a mirror. Look in the mirror and see if you are sitting all the way back in your chair. See if your shoulders are slumped forward? Does the lower lumbar area of your back fit snug up against your chair if it has a lumbar support? Are you sitting straight in the chair instead of at an angle? Are you leaning too much against the back of the chair which can promote the sagging of back muscles and poor posture? These are just some of the observations you can make to better analyze faults so you can make the necessary adjustments for better overall posture.
Do you own a good pair of shoes?
It is so important to have a relatively new pair of comfortable running shoes or casual shoes or boots to maintain good posture. I once owned a pair of rubber-soled boots that I wore for about 2 years. One of the rubber soles of the boots was completely worn down making one of my legs essentially longer than the other and throwing my spine completely out of alignment.
Moral of the story: Check your shoes and make sure you don’t have the same problem. If you have a pair of running shoes, you might want to consider buying a new pair every 3-6 months depending on how much you run.
One more thought that immediately comes to mind while we are on the subject of leg length is short-leg syndrome. Many people may have one leg slightly shorter than the other and not even know it. If you suspect this might be the cause of your back pain, you might want to see a chiropractor or an orthapaedist to make a proper evaluation. A simple lift or insert in your shoe might be all you need to correct this problem and end your back pain.
If you really have a hard time maintaining good posture you can try a support or lumbar device such as a lumbar roll. Since many sofas or pieces of furniture are so poorly designed for your back anatomically, a lumbar roll should certainly be used on a chair or especially a couch that really doesn’t offer any lumbar support.
When it comes to preventing back pain, proper posture is one of the best ways to maintain a pain-free back. Getting in this habit offers your spine more of the benefits of a neutral position that takes pressure off vertebrae, muscles, disks, nerves, cartilage and other structures in the back.