By Linda Cowling
Why is good posture important?
Neck and back pain can be caused due to bad posture, causing overstretching or tightening of the ligaments and tissues surrounding the joints in the spine. You have major and minor muscles and if your posture is incorrect this may mean your minor muscles are doing the work of the major muscles and hence this can lead to cramping, strains and in the long term painful injuries. Muscular strain can lead to tiredness, headaches and stress.
What affects posture?
Many things affect posture including work, hobbies, habits, general fitness and health. This includes spending long periods of time working at a computer, lifting activities, housework and even shopping. People are all different heights and sizes but desks, shopping trolleys and many other items are ‘one fits all’ and the human body changes its posture to cope. Tall people are prone to stooping and getting round shoulders. Shorter people have to stretch to reach and try to stand tall.
- Sit well back in the chair, making sure your lower back is well supported. This can be done by using a lumbar roll/support or a small rolled up towel.
- Shoulders should be slightly back and relaxed down.
- Thighs should be supported and feet flat on the floor.
- Do not cross your legs or lean to one side.
- Wearing bifocal/variable focal glasses whilst looking at a computer screen may cause neck problems as you will move your head to focus instead of straight vision.
- Imagine you have a string attached to your head, pulling you upwards.
- Weight bear equally on both feet, wear shoes that fit properly.
- Keep knees relaxed.
- Keep shoulders square, not rounded forward.
- You should be aware of the small hollow in your back.
- Avoid lifting heavy objects; share the load if it is heavy.
- Always bend your knees and keep the load close to the body.
- Shopping can be a problem as shopping trolleys are all the same size
- Care should be taken when lifting crates, sacks of potatoes etc
- Lifting and then stretching over into a trolley or boot of the car can cause injury.
- Many back injuries occur during manual handling and the most common is a prolapsed disc (slipped disc).
- Discs between each vertebra are shock absorbers and if the spine is over strained and your posture is wrong the discs after time will bulge. This can then lead to nerve impingement which can be extremely painful and debilitating.
Avoid lying in the bath or reading in bed for long periods of time as this can strain the neck and back.
Change your position often, don’t sit, stand or lie for long periods, move around to keep good blood circulation.
Stretch your legs, arms and arch your back and move your head up and down and side to side when feeling fatigued at work.
REMEMBER that your posture is not something that can be turned on and off, it is with you all the time.
RESPECT your body and especially your spine, you only have one.