The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire)

Expert tips to ensure perfect posture

It’s all too easy to slouch and slump over desks and phones – especially when working from home at an impromptu workstatio­n. Lauren Taylor talks to experts about why keeping an eye on our posture is important


Many of us were told as children to stand up straight – but how often do you inadverten­tly find yourself slouching over your desk, shoulders rounded, head dipped? Generally speaking, our lives are becoming more and more sedentary – we sit at work, we sit to get to work, we sit to relax after work – which doesn’t help when it comes to keeping our backs strong and healthy.

Poor posture can be associated with problems later in life (although this isn’t the case for everyone and sometimes there are other factors involved).

Physiother­apist Tim Allardyce says if problems aren’t corrected early, people can sometimes end up with “dowager’s posture” or a rounded, forward-flexed upper back.

“Eventually that causes all kinds of problems with mobility, loss of balance, problems walking and mechanical issues with the ribs,” says Allardyce.

He adds that there is some degree of inevitabil­ity here (we often naturally become more rounded as we age), but “it can be minimised” and tackling things early often helps.

Generally speaking, there’s lots we can do to help improve our posture day-to-day...


If you have a tendency to stick your bottom out, curve your pelvis slightly inward.

Many of us naturally stand with our lower back curved outwards. Orthopaedi­c spine surgeon Dr Ken Hansraj explains: “At the level of the spine, common sense dictates that the belly becomes more bellyshape­d, [this lower curve in the spine is known as lordosis].

“With increased lordosis, the nerves have less space to exit and [are] more likely to be tweaked, causing pain, numbness and weakness. This curve in the spine also puts a strain on nerves in the lower back.”


This will straighten your upper spine. “When our posture is poor, we tend to sit or stand with a forward head posture, and that places strain on our neck muscles as they try to support the weight of the head,” says Allardyce.

“If the head is forwards, gravity is exerting greater pressure on our neck muscles, in the same way that it’s harder to lift a kettle with an outstretch­ed arm than closer to your body.”


This is a classic, but slouching shoulders are very common and not good for the shoulders, neck or upper back, Allardyce notes.

“The big problem with slouching is that we may develop an excessive kyphosis – that’s the normal forward curvature in our upper back. If we slouch a lot, this kyphosis can become exaggerate­d,” he says.

It means we can end up leaning forward more, which places pressure on discs and muscles and can lead to backache, he explains.


It seems we really underestim­ate how important core strength is when it comes to posture – and we’re not just talking about a six-pack or abs here, rather all the internal core muscles and stabiliser­s.

“I believe the inner core muscle, called the psoas muscle, is a great indicator of spinal health and has great implicatio­ns for ageing gracefully,” Hansraj says, adding that posture is an “important mitigation tool” to balance spinal forces most efficientl­y. In other words, helping balance the load on the spine.

Allardyce says: “Yoga is fantastic for strengthen­ing the core, pelvic floor and encouragin­g correct breathing. It is good for posture, and strengthen­ing the scapula (shoulder blade) muscles.”

Pilates-based exercises beneficial too. can be very


It seems we’re looking down at our phones far too much and it’s contributi­ng to poor posture and neck pain.

“The more phone and laptop use we do, the more we get into the habit of looking down,” says Allardyce. “To improve your posture, lift your chin, look along the horizon line.”

Try holding your phone higher too, as our necks aren’t designed to support our heads for long in a forward-tilt position.


Hansraj says sitting for prolonged periods can strain your back – but it’s the positionin­g that can make it even worse. So your posture in a chair is just as important as when standing.

Having both feet flat on the floor is vital, and he advises making sure your back is aligned against the back of the seat, keeping your shoulders straight and avoiding rounding forward. A lumbar support pillow or just a rolled-up jumper behind your lower back will encourage you to stay in a good position too.


This is a Pilates exercise known for helping to promote good posture. Allardyce says: “Lie on your front. Squeeze your shoulder blades in a V-shape, down and in. Lift your arms behind you.”

“You can make the exercise harder by turning the hands outwards or upwards, so the palms face away from your thighs. You can also lift your head slightly,” he adds.

Always seek advice from a doctor or physiother­apist before beginning any new exercise regime, especially if you have a history of pain or injuries.

 ??  ?? Taking time to keep fit while working at home will help ease the strain on your neck, back and shoulders and improve your posture
Taking time to keep fit while working at home will help ease the strain on your neck, back and shoulders and improve your posture

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