Sunday, 17 January 2016

Better Posture for the New Year

Stuck for a New Years resolution idea? I know we’ve past the official start date but its never too late to get started on improving your lifestyle, so lets talk about posture.

One of the most frequent and best tips that I can give to someone suffering with discomfort on a daily basis is to assess their posture – this includes when standing, sitting, driving, during certain movements and even when sleeping.

Good posture is important for you to create good health and plays such a huge part in how we feel on a day to day basis.

If we spend most of our time slumped forward we are putting added pressure on our organs and muscles.
 One major muscle that comes under pressure when we slump is our diaphragm; which we use to breath – if you are slumped forward your diaphragm is squashed and you won’t be able to breath as deeply as your body is capable of – you may not notice this as you go about your daily life but reduced oxygen in your body means that you get tired and worn out more easily – standing up straight helps you breath more easily! 

As we know the spine has 4 curves and maintaining these helps keep your spine healthy – the curve that takes the most pressure from our modern lifestyle is the one in our neck – if we slump forward when we sit or spend a lot of time staring at our mobile devices we are often moving our neck out of its natural curve. As well as placing stress on the joints in our spine, the muscles around the area start to get sore and tight from mis-use.

One of the main considerations when thinking about posture is to have your spine in a neutral position – this is when your spine is in its best position and you aren’t placing any added strain on any particular part of it. This is especially important when you are standing but you also want to carry the comfortable neutral spine position into all your other postures and movements.

How sitting affects your body:

·      Taking a seat shortens your hip flexors, bends the spine forward and places strain on the low back, upper back and neck

·      Furthermore practically every action we do when sitting involves reaching in front of us; to type, grab the phone, move the mouse, reach for your drink

·      When you spend your time hunched over a computer the joints in your back can become restricted and immobile - fixed into the position that they spend most of their time in

·      When the joints become less mobile the surrounding muscles start to become strained as they have to change the way they work to compensate for the immobility in the spine

A few quick and easy tips to follow when you are sitting are:

·      Place your bottom at the back of the chair you are sitting in – this is easier on a desk/hard chair than the sofa – if your sofa is deep you may want to consider putting some cushions behind your back for support

·       Make sure you rest back against the chair you are sitting in – this takes the pressure off your postural muscles to hold you upright and discourages a slumped forward posture.

. Test out your mattress before you buy it – different people sleep better with different firmness

·    Sleep on your back or side rather on your front with your neck twisted to one side

One of the best ways to improve your posture is to get moving!
 . If you sit all day at work – try to get up and move around every 30-50 minutes (taking regular breaks at work is also thought to improve your productivity)
. Get moving in your spare time – go for a walk or do a fun activity that involves getting up and moving around

·       Add some movement into your commute – I was thinking you could walk some of the way or cycle but if you want to dance on the tube then you can do that too ;-)

·       The BCA has a lovely and simple to follow 3 minute exercise programme called ‘Straighten Up’ you can find a link to the video here:

·       Our sister clinic Lucks Yard has produced an awesome app for your phone which is all about stretches – it even has reminders you can set: ChiroMoves Link.

By Hazel Dillon (MChiro DC) a chiropractor at The Octagon Chiropractic Clinic