May and springtime are here and we are so ready for the warmer weather, holidays, vacations, and all the good things spring and summer have to offer. May is also exciting because it is “National Correct Your Posture Month” and in the spirit of the holiday, we thought we’d give our top 5 tips for improving your posture.
But first, why is posture important?
Posture is important for balance. It is also important for correct form during exercise, which results in fewer injuries and better results. Improving your posture can help you feel better throughout the day and not cause your neck and back to be as sore if you sit at a desk for the majority of the day.
So how do you improve posture?
Top 5 Tips to Improve Posture
1. Use Lumbar Support
Using ergonomic chairs will offer the lumbar support necessary to maintain spinal curves. If an ergonomic chair is not available, use a lumbar pillow to maintain a curve in the spine. A few substitutes for a lumbar pillow can be a rolled-up towel or blanket or something as simple as a folded/rolled up sweater.
Maintaining support in the lumbar spine will help to prevent a slouched posture which can lead to discomfort over time. Prolonged slouched posture puts excess strain on the lower back and leads to “Upper Cross” Syndrome where muscular imbalances in the upper back and neck can lead to discomfort. You can find more details about Upper Cross Syndrome below.
2. Screen and Chair Height
The height of your chair should allow for your knees to be at or slightly below the level of the hips keeping thighs relatively parallel to the ground. Feet should be able to be planted on the ground. If your feet are unable to touch the ground, a foot rest can also be used to ensure feet are on a solid surface.
You should also adjust the height of your screen so the top half of the monitor is kept at eye level. You might need to use a monitor stand in order to achieve the correct height. It is okay to tilt the screen upwards slightly to make viewing easier.
3. Sit to Stand Desks
It is important to take breaks from a seated position throughout the day. One great option to help reduce the amount of time one sits in the same position is to incorporate a Standing Desk or Sit to Stand Desk.
Standing is a great alternative to sitting and can reduce the amount of stress on the body that sitting can cause during an 8-10 hour work day. Using a Sit to Stand Desk can provide a work environment that supports both sitting and standing, allowing you to be able to change positions often throughout the day. It is important to note that between sitting and standing, one is not better than the other for posture, but that staying in one position for extended amounts of time can lead to discomfort.
When standing, the same posture recommendations should still be followed regarding screen height, forearm placement, maintaining equal weight distribution, etc.
Also, be advised that if you plan to introduce standing throughout your day, we recommend starting with a short duration and gradually increasing over time. We recommend starting with 30 minutes at one time and gradually increasing. Remember, it is great to alternate so that the body does not spend too long in one position.
4. Intermittent Breaks
Taking intermittent breaks throughout the day will also help prevent discomfort from being in one position for too long. We recommend using these breaks to go for a short walk, stretch or even do some light exercise movements. We generally recommend 3-5 minutes or longer, if possible, every 1-2 hours. A “break” does not have to be for a long duration and can be as short as 30 seconds. Even if it is just getting up to get a drink of water or doing one or two stretches, this will help to reduce muscle tightness and fatigue, and improve blood flow. Taking quick breaks can increase productivity and creativity during the work day.
5. Keep Weight Evenly Distributed Between Hips
While sitting or standing, it is important to maintain an even distribution of weight on both hips or legs. Leaning to one side can cause excess strain on one side of the back. It can also potentially cause hip or leg soreness from keeping pressure on one side. If you are in a seated position, remember to keep the hips all the way back in the chair while sitting to ensure proper distribution! For more information on how to select the best desk chair, check out this blog post!
Another Tip: Routine Exercise
In addition to these tips, we also recommend making sure you’re incorporating regular exercise into your routine. Regular exercise, such as strength training and cardiovascular training, can help reduce back pain from sitting for extended periods of time and lead to many other benefits for the whole body.
Upper Cross Syndrome
Upper Cross Syndrome is the posture that arises from sitting with your shoulders rolled forward and slouched and your head extended forward. This muscle imbalance occurs from sitting for prolonged periods of time causing the muscle to stabilize, thus being less active and becoming weaker.
To prevent Upper Cross Syndrome, it is important to incorporate stretches, strengthening exercises and ergonomic changes. Chiropractic care and manual therapy can also be used to address joint dysfunction, muscular adhesions and trigger points.
Get Treated at Kaizo Health
At Kaizo Health, our world-class team of chiropractors in Rockville, MD; Landover, MD; Fort Washington, MD; and Fairfax, VA, practices an evidence-based approach combining chiropractic care and guided, individualized rehabilitative exercises prescription. We provide the treatment and resources you need to recover your health and strength as best-in-class, state-of-the-art chiropractors. If you are suffering pain, don’t hesitate to contact us here. We are here to help! In the meantime, make sure that you check out our blog for more information on the chiropractic field, as well as our free virtual self-assessment chiropractic web app here.