HOW TO CORRECT BAD POSTURE
Find out simple ways that can help you to correct your posture
AT least 90% of injuries I see are due to incorrect posture, which causes back pain, neck pain and headaches, not to mention knee, hip, and shoulder pain. Posture is so powerful that these related problems can show up anywhere and at any time. But posture isn’t just physical, it also impacts your mind, according to research which has linked good posture with a healthy mentality. So, it is very important to know how to correct bad posture.
Maintaining good posture doesn’t come easily to everyone. A few facts about posture include:
• Posture is more than standing up straight: We often think of posture as how we carry ourselves while standing, but in many cases it’s not even half the equation – at Elite Akademy we see more people having seated posture issues. Many people spend well over half of their day seated, due to work commitments and it’s easily the most urgent problem in how to correct bad posture.
• Bad posture can be changed: Many people hold the view posture is individual or inherited and therefore unchangeable. Not true. Anybody can improve their posture by making a few small changes and committing to the change – even those who naturally tend to poor posture.
HERE ARE SOME REASONS FOR BAD POSTURE AND HOW TO CORRECT THE ISSUE:
1. Inactivity: We are 70% water and need regular movement to naturally lubricate our joints, preventing stiffness and pain. Without activity your joints stiffen, your muscles contract and you lose strength in core muscle groups. Regular exercise can keep you strong and help prevent posture problems.
2. Computer screens at the wrong height: This has become a bigger issue with more people using laptops, which may cause them to look downward, putting strain on the neck. Ideally your screen is positioned at eye level.
3. Working too long without a break: Too long in the one position is a big problem for desk-bound workers. Move whenever you can, get up and take short breaks every 45 minutes or so. Do exercises or stretches in your chair, go for a short walk at lunchtime. All these movements combined with good posture keep you energised.
4. Inappropriate footwear: It’s a shame that many beautiful shoes are also terrible for posture. Try and limit time spent in high heels and other ill-supporting shoes.
5. The iPhone shuffle: We tend to slouch and crane our neck forward when viewing our smartphones, creating potential back/neck issues and headaches. People who spend hours looking at their phones everyday need to ensure they remain active and try to limit ‘screen time’.
Anyone can learn how to correct bad posture by recognising that it is an issue and committing to a change. Some key things which will help include:
• A combination of low, medium and high intensity exercises every week encourages more mobility and flexibility and counteracts the daily damage at work.
• Remembering that good posture is just motor learning – that is, it takes approximately 3000 reps of straightening your spine (sitting tall) for this to become automated by the brain. Using 3000 reps as a rule, if people do 200 reps per day they will find how to correct bad posture in as little as 15 days.
Achieving 200 reps is possible:
• Every time you check your phone, sit tall. Studies have found people check their phone 60-80 times per day.
• Wearable tech such as fitness trackers, may also become a reminder system. If it turns on/ off randomly with movement then it becomes a cue to notice and correct bad posture.
• Similarly, when checking email. Before you open the emails ‘grow tall’ in the seat. This may account for another 30-50 times per day.
• Bad posture is a leading cause of pain and is becoming a bigger issue with more people sitting for long periods at work.
• Understand how to change bad posture and what positions to avoid.
• Anyone can learn how to correct bad posture with some commitment.
Kusal Goonewardena is an experienced physiotherapist, lecturer, consultant and mentor to thousands of physiotherapy students around the world. Kusal has authored books including: Low Back Pain – 30 Days to Pain Free; 3 Minute Workouts; and co-authored Natural Healing: Quiet and Calm. Kusal consults via his clinic, Elite Akademy.