Bad posture is a common issue for people of all ages, and just about everyone could do with some lessons on the importance of standing and sitting up straighter.
Minor postural changes are common with aging, but the sitting position has the most impact especially while driving, using our smartphones, watching TV, or utilizing a computer. The ever-evolving screen technology has posed new posture issues. Tech neck is caused by repetitive strain and injury to the cervical spine’s muscles and tissues. As our attention changes to the action in front of us, our neck and head push forward, rounding the spine. This causes weariness and eventually neck and back pain.
The bone structures, muscles, ligaments, and tendons of the neck support the 10-12 pound average adult head. The weight of your head puts 50-60 pounds of tension on your neck when you lean your head forward and look down to text. Your neck isn’t designed to tolerate that kind of power for long. The outcome is muscular and ligamentous strain, as well as structural abnormalities that create severe neck symptoms. Combining tech neck with aging can be quite damaging to our posture.
How aging affects our posture
Aging affects three main “systems” responsible for your posture:
Bone loss – Osteoporosis and its milder form, osteopenia cause vertebrae to lose calcium becomes less dense, and shrink a little. Weakened bones can add to posture problems, though a healthy lifestyle can help.
Disk shrinkage – Over the years, your spinal disks’ rubbery exterior and squishy interior start to dry out. As a result, the bones in your spine creep closer together, which affects the way you move.
Muscle loss – Your muscles help support your spine and keep your torso upright, but you tend to lose muscle mass as you age. This process can be slowed with continued exercise.
The good news is, that it’s not too late to reverse some of the signs and symptoms of poor posture.
Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie so as to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities. Good posture keeps bones and joints in the correct position (alignment) so that muscles are being used properly. Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis. Decreases the strain on the ligaments in the spine. Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions. Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
Prevents backache and muscular pain.
Practice these spine-strengthening exercises at least three times a week.
#1. Chin Tucks
Many people’s cervical spine tilts forward, causing them to struggle with a forward head and rounded shoulders. This can lead to neck pain and chronic headaches. This is a great exercise you can do while sitting or standing. The goal is to work on stacking your cervical vertebrae (the bones in the neck) so they’re in a neutral position.
To do this exercise, start by sitting up straight. Then, pull your chin back, as though you’re making a double chin. Sit upright and look straight ahead with the ears directly over the shoulders. Place a finger on the chin. Without moving the finger, pull the chin and head straight back until a good stretch is felt at the base of the head and top of the neck. Make sure it goes straight back — don’t lift your chin toward the ceiling. Hold this position for five seconds, taking note of your posture. Feel the muscles in the back of your neck strengthening. Repeat this exercise 20 times.
#2. Wall Arm Circles
Stand with your back to the wall. Walk your feet out so there are about six inches between the wall and your heels. Lean back against the wall and tuck your pelvis so your lower back touches. Pull your shoulders and head back so they touch the wall as well. For some people, this position is difficult enough. If you feel up to it, slowly raise your arms overhead, keeping the backs of them touching the wall at all times. When your hand’s touch, return to the beginning position, making sure the backs of your arms never leave the wall. Repeat this exercise 30 times.
#3. Scapular Retractions
For this exercise, you have the option to use a resistance band. You can perform it standing or sitting. Grab the band with each hand extend your arms in front of your body and parallel to the floor. Keep your arms straight and pull your shoulders back, drawing your shoulder blades together. This is a small movement, but you’ll see immediately how much it can improve your posture. Repeat this exercise 30 times.
#4. Bird Dogs
Start on your hands and knees. Look straight down at the ground to keep your head in a neutral position. Pull your abdominal muscles in as well to support and straighten your back. Once you feel stable, lift your right leg so it extends straight behind you. Lift your left arm and extend it in front of you. Keep your back straight — don’t let it arch. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your arm and leg and repeat with the opposite limbs. If this is too difficult, you can start by just lifting your legs one at a time, then lift each arm individually. Over time, you’ll be able to progress and lift both limbs simultaneously.
#5. Pelvic Tilts
Pelvic tilts are one of those posture exercises which strengthen the pelvis and gluteal muscles. This not only helps in lower back posture correction but also relieves lower back pain. To do this exercise, you have to place one hand behind your lower back and pull your abdominal muscles in as you tuck your pelvis under. This will help to flatten your lower back. If you sense any kind of pressure on your hand, you are doing this exercise correctly.
#6. Arm Ups
If you are looking for easy exercises to fix posture, this exercise does its job. It’s a very easy and go to exercise where you have to keep your arms up for a while. This is among those posture exercises that help to improve the flexibility of your ribs to assist in breathing and also increase the ability to lift the ribs and thus bringing the shoulders back into proper position.
#7. Shoulder Squeeze Exercise
This exercise seems to be simple at first, but the end result depends upon your form while you are doing this exercise. For doing this exercise, you need to sit on a chair and keep your feet flat on the floor. Shift your weight slightly forward so as to avoid rounding your back. Ears, shoulders, and hips are to be kept aligned. Raise your arms to shoulder height, elbows bent and palms forward. Move your arms back, squeezing your shoulder blades together. Hold for 10 seconds and then return to starting position. To see quick results, do this good posture exercise at least five times daily.
#8. Standing Rows with Resistance Band
This is a great exercise to straighten posture, and for this, you need a resistance band. Sit on the floor with your back tall and straight. Grasp each end of the band with your arms slightly extended. Loop band around feet. Gradually, start squeezing the shoulder blades and contracting the mid-back muscles. Do at least one set of this posture correction exercise every second day, and try not to round the shoulders forward while doing it.
#9. Wall Posture Training
Lean on the wall against your back. Put the entire spine against the wall from the butt to the head. Now try to touch the shoulders, back of the head, mid-back, and butt to the wall without straining anywhere or excessively arching the back. Practice this posture at least 30 seconds at a time.
#10. Child’s Pose
Sit on your shinbones with your knees together, your big toes touching, and your heels out to the side. Fold forward at your hips and walk your hands out in front of you. Sink your hips back down toward your feet. If your thighs won’t go all the way down, place a pillow or folded blanket under them for support. Gently place your forehead on the floor or turn your head to one side.
Keep your arms extended or rest them along your body. Breathe deeply into the back of your rib cage and waist.
Relax in this pose for up to 5 minutes while continuing to breathe deeply.
Why is sitting up straight uncomfortable?
Sitting upright is uncomfortable because it requires our muscles to work, rather than relax, and because it often tries to straighten out the natural curves in the back, which is hard to maintain and may not actually be very helpful. Correct Sitting Posture: You should think about your posture as you go about your daily activities. Remember this: Your spine should be straight, pull shoulders back so that you can feel your chest open. Keep your chest lifted. Your butt should touch the back of your sofa or chair. Allow your natural back curve while sitting. You can use a small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll to help maintain the normal curves in your back. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (Use a foot rest or stool if necessary.) Do not cross your legs.
Keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
When standing or walking:
You might not pay much attention to how you stand, but it can make a big difference to your posture. To stand with good posture, keep these tips in mind: Stand straight and tall with your shoulders relaxed and pulled back slightly. Think of balancing a book on top of your head. Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart, with your weight mostly on the balls of your feet. Keep your knees bent slightly. Pull in your belly button toward your spine. Keep your head level, not bent forward, with your ears over your shoulders.