“Stop slouching! Sit up straight! Chin up, stomach in shoulder out!” No. These are not instructions from a drill a sergeant. These are the all too familiar stern reminders that possibly all of us got while growing up and for good reason too. Imperfect posture is an important contributing factor to muscle and joint pain, premature bone erosion and arthritis. Imperfect posture is the wrong sitting, sleeping, walking and or standing position which unnecessarily increase stress on our bones and ligaments by placing them in an incorrect alignment. Now you know, why growing up, you always got a stern rebuke whenever an adult saw you slouch. It is so ingrained in you that now you repeat the same thing to your child every time you see her doing it.
There is a scientific reason why perfect posture is so important to your health. Perfect posture allows your body to distribute the entire weight across all the bones uniformly. This does not put any undue extra stress on any particular joint, leading to its damage. Think of good posture as the basics of a good civil construction plan. Everything revolves around gravity of course. That is if a structure is designed in a wrong way one particular area will be over stressed leading to its ultimate cracking and consequent ultimate destruction of the whole construction. Just as an engineer would be thinking of providing adequate support to each and every corner of a structure that he is designing, so that no stress point has to handle more than the required pressure, the same way our body is designed to handle only a limited amount of stress. It is your duty to ensure that at no time any particular joint of the body is handling more than its fair share of stress.
Tips for Healthy Joints
With growing age comes loss of flexibility and mobility. Joint pains and arthritis are two very painful conditions that impair us from moving freely and living a normal life. Old age does not have to be this way for all. With a bit of disciplined effort undertaken everyday it is possible to live a better quality life than what most people do. Remember the onus is on you. It is your life. Wouldn’t you want to play with your grandchildren in the lawn? Take them to the fair or even accompany them on a trip? The fear of missing out on all the wonderful things that old age can bring to you should in itself be your greatest inspiration.
Joint exercises are a set of simple routine that can keep at bay joint pains and loss in movement of your limbs. It entails movement of your joints and giving them a full movement to ensure that they are worked properly. However, please take care that you don’t over-stretch yourself. If you already have an existing condition first consult an Orthopedic to avoid worsening an already existing condition.
The Right Standing Posture
Just as slouching when sitting tends to create an angular curve in the spine, a wrong standing position also creates pressure in the leg joints. When you stand in the perfect posture, if seen from the side, your spine should be in the shape of the letter ‘S’. If seen from behind it should appear as a straight with no visible deviation sideways. This is what an orthopedic doctor would most likely try to confirm if you go and see him complaining about back pain. While standing it is also important that your legs are straight and there are no angular deviations at the joints. A simple way to get the standing posture correct is by standing against a wall. In this position ensure that your buttock, the back of your head and the scapulae are touching the wall and that there is a small gap between the lower back and the wall. This is the arch. Once you get to know this position, memorize it so that it is engrained in your sub-conscious mind and you can return to that position every time you are standing and feel like you are slouching.
The Right Sitting Posture
If your work requires you to be seated for most part of the day then it is vital that you are aware of the correct seating posture. Incorrect seating posture will create severe stress on your spines and ligaments resulting in excruciating back and neck pain. Just as was discussed above about the right standing posture, similarly, while seating, your back should form a smooth ‘S’. Unfortunately, however, when working on a computer or writing or studying, there is a tendency to move and stretch the head forward. When you do so, the weight of the head (which is by the way the heaviest and densest part of the body) is no longer supported by the spine but hangs by the neck muscles and ligaments. This results in extreme pain after a while.
Chairs For Perfect Seating Posture
An ergonomically designed chair will reduce back strain and provide ample support to the spine. Straight back chairs have always been sought after as the right type of chair for people who work long hours on a desk. Hard back chairs provide ample firm support to the spine. However, the arch at the lower spine is not supported well enough on straight back chairs. Modern chairs, however, with ergonomical back support has been designed to address this. They provide better support to the spine as well as to the arch in the lower spine.
Tips For Sitting Correctly When Working on Your Computer
Just because you have purchased the best ergonomical chair that money can buy does not mean that you are no longer susceptible to back pain. In fact you are still vulnerable, unless you have adopted the right seating posture. Is there more to the perfect seating posture than buying the right chair? You betcha! The first thing that you should do is adjust the height of the chair according to the height of the table you are working on. When you sit on a chair your elbows should be folded in such a way that your upper arms and your lower legs are almost parallel to your spine. The thighs should be at 90 ° to the torso. The elbows should be folded ideally at about 90 ° allowing you to rest your arms on the computer keyboard comfortably. In geometrical terms there should be no acute or obtuse angles.
Additionally, take care that you are not sitting right at the edge of the chair. Ideally, you should seat deep into your chair and there should be some space between your lower thighs and the edge of the chair. Keep a small cushion at the back where the arch of the spine is. Some people prefer to seat with their feet raised on an ottoman or leg rest. This is not advisable. You should not raise your feet unless you are taller than average, in which case you may have to readjust the height of the chair.
Finally, the height of the computer / laptop screen should also be adjusted. Most people cannot type without taking their eyes off the computer keyboard. This is why a majority of them keep the height of the laptop screen in the same field of view where they can also see their keyboard, even if it is just for a glance. The ideal position of the laptop or computer screen should be such that when you are looking straight ahead, the screen is right in the middle of your gaze. Laptops are a problem to set in this position. But you can benefit by using a cooling station and an external comfortable keyboard. This should allow you to adjust the height of the laptop screen perfectly. However, unless you know typing and have your fingers set on the keyboard this is going to be a problem for you to implement.
Stretching exercises are a must for anyone prone to sitting on a chair for long durations. Executives, doctors, writers, computer programmers and designers are just some of the professionals who regularly feel the pinch of acute neck and back pain, thanks to their work which demands prolonged periods of sitting on a chair. For all of them and anyone else who may need it, regular stretching exercises are a must. If you feel that you are sitting for too long, simply stand, walk around, do some stretching exercises to reduce muscle and spinal stress. If you don’t have too much moving around to do in an office, simply take the stairs. Climb a level or two and then come back to your cubicle. Alternatively, you can walk around the level you are in to stretch your legs.
The Ideal Sleeping Posture
As strange as it may read most people don’t quite know how to sleep properly. Some people sleep so bad it appears that they are being chased around the bed the whole night. A good night’s sleep is indispensable to recharge an individual after a hard day and to prepare him for the hard day ahead. While sleep is imperative both for the mind and the body, a wrong sleeping position is not. Sleeping with the wrong head position can lead to severe neck pain or a stiff neck. This can happen because the pillow you are sleeping on is either thin or very thick or it is placed in the wrong position. Always choose a pillow that allows your head to remain straight and at a normal height. If the pillow is thin your head will hang and create stress for your neck muscles. If it is too thick it can cause your neck to bend and cause the neck muscles and ligaments of the spine to overstretch. Additionally, never let the pillow to be under the shoulders but always under the head.
Just as the ideal standing or seating position, it is important that the sleeping position should also allow you to maintain the smooth ‘S’ curve. So you could lie on your back on a spring mattress that maintains the form and provides support for the lower arch. Alternatively if a spring mattress is beyond your pocket try to use a firm mattress, place a pillow under your head and another one under your knees. Some people prefer sleeping on their sides. This is okay. But you should not bend your leg at the knees and arch them towards the chest. This position can cause stress and pain to your spine if you sleep for long hours like this. Mattress manufacturers show advertisement in which a model is shown as sleeping on her stomach. This is an incorrect position to sleep in. In the long run you are only going to hurt your stomach and stress your back.
Perfecting your posture is a process that requires some changes to your daily habits; however, with the right training and resources, these changes will provide you with improved health and happiness.