Remember how grandma used to heckle you about sitting up straight, ramrod back and all? Well, turns out she was 100 percent right. Many of us don’t really realize how we end up abusing our muscles, ligaments and tendons, when we do something as inane as sitting or sleeping wrong.
A bad posture causes unnecessary stress to a body part – the common ones being the back, neck and shoulder muscles. Over time, this stress causes the muscles to get weak and strained, leading to aches and chronic pain as well as a tendency towards sprain and injury .
So here are a few points on the ‘right’ posture to have when doing myriad things – and how avoiding posture mistakes helps stave off any muscle pains, pulls or sprains .
Posture One: Phone Usage
With the average American spending about 37 hours a month engaged in phone apps, games or texting – and the associated neck ailments related to poor posture while doing it – we decided to go with the posture of using smartphones first. Sitting hunched in a chair with your head hanging down to look at your phone is possibly the worst posture to text in. This causes your neck muscles to take all the weight of your 10-20 pound head, giving rise to cervical aches, herniated disks and tension headaches and an overall fatigue in your neck muscles .
The correct posture is for you to raise the phone to chin height, keeping the back straight and the shoulders square. Remember to stretch your neck and rotate your shoulders frequently when using the phone for long hours to ease the stress on the muscles and not make any posture mistakes.
Posture Two: Sleeping
Think you sleep right? Then why do you have an ache the first thing in the morning? When you stay in bed, reading or watching TV, or even sleeping with your head propped up by a stack of pillows – you are basically giving yourself a crick in the neck, and a longtime practice of this will ultimately leave you with chronic neck or back pain .
The correct sleeping posture is to avoid propping up your head on the pillow and thereby keeping your neck straight; and supporting your hips with another pillow while keeping the spine mildly arched. A good and restful sleep in the correct posture will stave off any back or neck strains.
Posture Three: Standing
We all think that we’ve been doing this right since we first learnt how to stand when we were pints. We think wrong. While different body types tend to stand a little different, it’s basically the center of gravity that dictates the correct way of standing. Remember that you may be in a hurry to get to somewhere – but that’s no excuse to pitch your upper body forward and commit a litany of posture mistakes .
Think of a gravity line extending downwards from the center of your head – it should fall between your ears, shoulders, hips knees and ankles – this is the correct standing posture.
Posture Four: Sitting
The first thing about desk work is to remember not to hunch yourself in your seat. Also remember to keep changing your positions through the day. Sitting still is a recipe for a disaster called back pain .
The most important thing about desk work is lumbar support – the lower back needs to be in contact with a firm, comfortable surface – not hovering a foot away. The others things to keep in mind that your elbows should be at 90 degree angles and the feet need to be flat on the ground.
Posture Five: Walking
If you are walking with your feet turned out, you are walking wrong .
The toes need to point straight, and the shoulders need to be relaxed. Walking is a rhythmic thing; you need to rock forward from your heel and then push off from your toe. The trick lies in balancing your gait with hands free by your side and swinging in natural motion. And remember to tighten the core a little – pulled in abs will make your walking that much more efficient.
Remember that the correct posture comes with practice. Keep checking yourself over posture mistakes and soon good posture will come as naturally as breathing.