Posture is something that most people can stand to improve a little. Our heads, necks, backs, and shoulders get put under pressure every day, and it’s easy to not realize how tight they can become. The easiest way to improve posture and ease tension in the upper body is to make little changes throughout your day, and not even all of them need to be done at once. Here are a few things that could be damaging your posture and upper body, and a few ways to combat it.
Slouching on your commute
We all know that slouching can be an easy habit to fall into, and it can be debilitating to your posture. While we can all slouch throughout the day, we are probably more aware of it when sitting at home, or even more so at work when we have to sit up and look at a screen for most of the day. But many of us can slouch on our commute, perhaps when tired after a long day of looking down on our phones while on the train. This can actually make neck and back problems worse. Studies have shown that vibrations caused by trains and cars can actually make you slouch more, by relaxing and sedating your muscles. Try to make an effort to sit up straight on your journey.
Talking on the phone
We’ve all needed to go hands-free while we’re on the phone, to jot something down or tackle an issue. But did you know that cradling your phone between your shoulder and your ear will affect your neck muscles and ruin good posture, even if you do it for just a few minutes every day. Try using headphones or a speaker to ensure you don’t damage your posture while on a call.
Take breaks and stretch
Whether you work on your feet or work on a desk job, spending eight hours of your day either sitting on a desk or strenuous activity can hinder your posture. When possible, try to take a few minutes every day to walk around, stretch and give your muscles a break during the day.
Don’t carry everything on one shoulder
It’s another habit to carry your bags on the same shoulder, day after day. But carrying on this habit can cause upper back pain, headaches, and sciatica, especially if you carry heavy bags. These issues can all hurt your posture and cause you to lean to one side due to weight. Try switching it up every time to combat this.
Wearing high heels
High heels are still very popular, and while a lot of people love them, it’s not the best shoe for your posture and your body. High heels can start to affect the way you stand, and eventually the way you walk because they cause your spine to start to sway unnaturally. If you do have to wear heels, try to stretch your calves as often as you can.
Bending forward with your back
If it’s lifting things that are heavy, or even doing something simple like picking something up or leaning forward, bending forward with your back can lead to serious issues with your upper back and posture. Try bending forwards at your hips, instead of bending with your stomach, and you will see a massive difference in your posture.
Don’t cross your legs
Even when you’re sitting down, the way that you position yourself and your legs when sitting matters. While it might seem second nature to cross your legs when you sit, you should actually avoid it. When you put one knee over the other, you lift your pelvis and this can actually cause a sore lower back and add to bad posture.
Sleeping on your stomach
While it might be comfy, sleeping on your stomach can put stress on your spine, and can make your posture worse. This is because when you sleep on your stomach, your spine can’t be in a neutral position, because all of your weight is at your center. Try sleeping on your back, or your side.
Now you know some of the things that can be making your posture worse, here are some ways to combat bad posture.
If you’ve been sitting in one place for too long, a wall slide is a good way to reset your body and your posture and remind yourself what a good posture feels like. It can also help to relieve tightness in your neck and shoulders. To do it, stand with your back and head pressed against the wall, with your feet a foot or two away. Try not to arch your back, and bend your knees slightly. Raise your arms, and this is the starting point. Now, slide your arms down towards your shoulders, keeping your back and head against the wall. Hold here for a moment, and then lift your arms back up to the starting point.
Child’s pose is an easy pose that can help to stretch your spine and ease tension in your back. Start on all fours, then sink your hips back towards your feet - walking your hands out in front at the same time. Place your forehead on the floor, and relax and breathe deeply.
Shoulder blade squeeze
This exercise will help to improve your posture by stabilizing the shoulders and upper back muscles. Stand tall with your arms at your side, and pull your shoulders back and downward, as if you’re trying to get your shoulder blades to touch. Pull until you feel a slight stretch in your muscles.
By Amy Cavill
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