Our parents said it, our teachers said it – you’ve probably said it yourself. But unlike many of those annoying childhood phrases (square eyes, anyone?) these two are in fact, ones you’d do well to listen to.
Posture is incredibly important, especially in this digital age where we spend more time in front of technology than we do asleep in our beds.
Bad posture puts stress and strain on muscles that are not designed for long term use. These muscles get tired and tense quickly, leading to unnecessary aches and pains. The good news is that adopting good posture practices is pretty easy. It’s simply a matter of making sure those strong ‘core muscles’ do the job they are intended to do.
Let’s start at the beginning. First of all…What are the ‘core muscles’? Without getting too technical, the core muscles are all the muscles in your abdomen. This not only includes the stomach muscles we know as the ‘six-pack’, but also several layers of muscles that encircle your spine.
These ‘super’ muscles are tough and work to provide balance and stability to your entire body.
All we need to do is make sure they can do their job properly. The essence of this is to ensure that your spine is aligned correctly. Whether sitting, standing, moving or bending – you want the three curves (neck, mid-back and low-back) of your spine to be in the right position. Those old-fashioned finishing schools had at least one thing right – learning to walk with books balanced on your head. But you really don’t need to go that far – when standing, just try to imagine a straight line running from your ear lobe, through your hip, knee and down to your ankle. Tuck your bottom in if you are prone to the ‘Donald Duck’ posture. Your chin should be horizontal to the ground – this is useful to remember when sitting at a desk – avoid looking up at your PC by adjusting your chair to the right height.
Watch out for common bad habits like slouching and hunching over phones and tablets – a big cause of back and shoulder pain. Avoid leaning on one leg when standing, carrying heavy bags on one shoulder, and carrying toddlers on one hip – you want your weight evenly distributed to avoid muscle imbalances and strains.
Channel your inner ballerina and walk tall! And if any of these postures feel uncomfortable, pop over to this NHS page for some simple exercises to strengthen those important core muscles. It will soon become second nature, and your body will thank you for many years to come.