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5 Steps to Fixing Your Posture and Saying Goodbye to Back Pain

5 Steps to Fixing Your Posture and Saying Goodbye to Back Pain

The statistics are clear: our screen resolutions have never been higher, and our immune systems have never been weaker. Constantly wired, we spend much of our time clicking from our seats. While some generate social media traffic and others complete side quests, we’ve all become accustomed to a mostly sedentary life. Even when brainstorming, we remain bent over our desks, with our minds constantly rushing and our bodies inactive.

It takes little time and even less effort to become inert and slouchy, but such habits shortly and inevitably lead to pain. Sore backs, necks, and shoulders are then frequently followed up by poor breathing, digestive issues, tension headaches, and even stress and depression. Still, all of these burdensome consequences can be easily nipped in the bud or alleviated once they start emerging — all it takes is a bit of awareness. Here are our five tips for offloading back pain by fixing your posture.

1. Stretch, Ready, Go

Over the years, we’ve all become experts at finding a good excuse for not being physically active. Either we work hard and have no time to devote to exercising, or it’s simply too hard to begin with. Well, fitness programs have come a long way since gyms were the only places equipped for working out. Nowadays, there are hundreds of them for each muscle group, specific purpose, and particular lifestyle habits available online, and most of them require not more than a half an hour per day.

Even if some toning exercises are too demanding, good posture routines never are. All they require is a bit of stretching, a couple of shoulder rolls, chest releases, a pyramid, a chair pose, and some standing side bends — basically, it’s a 7-step routine we’ve all done on our PE classes that lasts no longer than 20 minutes.

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As simple as they are, these exercises will not only relieve you of aches and allow you to breathe, sit and function normally, but they will also grant you a couple of minutes of unadulterated peace and harmonize your body and mind. It’s a few drops of sweat a day for a lifetime of being pain-free.

2. Tech Support

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    However bad for our health, slouching seems quite impossible to avoid. Described as the “smoking of our generation,” it’s a habit easily developed not only by passionate bingers and enthused gamers, but by anyone with long studying and working hours as well. Luckily, smart technology has been significantly improving our lives for the last decade, and when this particular issue is in question, it can help a great deal.

    Meet wearable tech! It’s clever and intuitive, cool, unnoticeable, and above all, hugely beneficial for our alignment. A fine selection of magnetic sensors, posture braces, activity trackers, and posture improvement devices are now available and mostly affordable for most of us in need of something to remind us of our bodies while our brains are working hard.

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    The principle of work behind these wearables varies from simple sitting correction to complex signal reminders. Some of them emit tiny vibrations to your lower back each time your spine starts to curve while sitting, some monitor walking posture, and others simply prevent your back from slouching by keeping them straight. Taken together, they are an important addition to regular exercises and a much-needed support for your sitting body.

    3. Legs on the Floor, Eyes on the Screen

    An ergonomically correct workstation needs much more than a comfortable chair. It’s a space you spend most of your time, whether focused on long-term business plans and current exams or excited about that heart-stopping landscape view from the ruins of Drahim Castle. Having it properly set up will not only make your sitting hours more pleasurable but will keep your spine, joints and muscles pressure-free and healthy in the long run.

    The natural sitting posture, as experts claim, is quite similar to your driving pose. Scoot your chair from the desk, and try adopting it. Once you find the position that keeps you straight but feeling comfortable enough, start adjusting your environment accordingly. The space between your keyboard and mouse should allow your arms to form a 90-degree angle, and your screen should be at proper distance and height in order for you to avoid “turtling.”

    Only when all of these elements are in place, your ergo chair can do its magic. Choose it to suit the shape, length, and height of your body and, if needed, find one that won’t allow you to change your pose too often.

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    4. Harmonize Your Body and Mind

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      Keeping your back straight and your shoulders and neck in perfect alignment may take some time getting used to. While the mind concentrates on work, the body relaxes and starts to slouch; before you finally become aware of your poor posture, a couple of hours have already passed. Luckily, there are a few magical tricks that can keep you in contact with your body, and remind your brain to send signals down to your spine.

      “It’s very important for us to be able to stretch and open up and improve our range of motion,” says Jonathan F. Bean of Harvard Medical School in Boston. Every half an hour, if not more frequently, stand up from your seat and stretch your legs or simply sit up, straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back and breathe. Until you adopt this as a regular habit, scribble a note to yourself on your computer screen as a reminder.

      Even if you don’t have many difficulties with this, consider introducing a yoga session to your weekly routine. There’s simply not a better technique for reconnecting your mind with your body — it will straighten your core but make you more flexible at the same time and remind you to breathe properly. Most importantly, one yoga class a week will make you aware of the utter importance of living healthy and taking care of both your spirit and physique.

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      5. Inhale; Exhale

      Hyperkyphosis, as scientists call it, or bad posture, as we all know it, unavoidably results in restricted and shallow breathing. The two are always interconnected, which is why improving them both is paramount for your overall health.

      Apart from being much healthier, breathing through a diaphragm is actually the only normal respiratory technique. Unlike upper chest breathing, which forces a lot of air out and thus causing us to feel breathless, agitated, and tired, this technique lets just enough air and does so in a controlled and deliberate manner. Additionally, it helps you to stay focused and aware of your body, something you’ll definitely need for improving your posture.

      However beneficial, these five tips are highly unlikely to get you anywhere if practiced alone. Once you start exercising regularly and breathing correctly, alter your sitting habits to support your back, shoulders, and neck, and embrace wearable tech to remind you of the importance of sitting straight in case you do eventually slip, your posture will finally be perfect, and your body pain-free.

      Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/u/scott-webb-39047/ via pexels.com

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      Nemanja Manojlovic

      Editor at MyCity Web

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      Last Updated on August 15, 2018

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

      Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

      Video Summary

      Why is it important to train up our core strength?

      There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

      This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

      Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

      In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

      One Exercise, multiple benefits

      There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

      By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

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      When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

      Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

      In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

      What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

      What will happen when you start doing planks every day

        1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

        Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

        • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
        • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
        • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
        • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

        2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

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          Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

          Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

          3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

            Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

            4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

              Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

              A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

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              A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

              On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

              5. You’ll improve overall balance

                Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

                6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                  Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                  7. You’ll witness mental benefits

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                    Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                    How to hold a plank position

                    1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                    2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                    3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                    4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                    5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                    6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                    7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                    Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                    Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                      How to improve your plank time gradually

                      1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                      2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                      3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                      Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                      Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                      You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                      • Prolapse
                      • After prolapse surgery
                      • Pelvic pain conditions
                      • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                      • Previous childbirth
                      • Overweight

                      Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

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