Strike a pose

When someone mentions the word ‘posture’ it’s seems like we all instinctively straighten our spine. But posture is more than just how straight you sit or stand.

Posture refers to the correct alignment and positioning of your body. Good posture means that your body is arranged so that no structure is overstressed, that the pressures on your body are evenly distributed and that your muscles aren’t strained or tense.

When you think about good posture, you may think about the stereotypical image of a soldier at attention. Eyes straight ahead, shoulders back, stomach in. But this military stance isn’t good posture as the muscles are likely rigid and tight. For good posture, your body should be in correct alignment but also loose and flexible. Bad posture can cause, or aggravate, existing pain. It can also cause general aches and pains, muscle fatigue and other health problems.

Bad posture can sneak up on us. Working away at a computer, sitting on the couch watching TV, standing around at a football game, lifting a suitcase out of the boot of your car – if you’re not paying attention to your posture, it’s easy to slouch, hunch over, or strain.

Tips for good posture

  • Stand in front of a mirror and check your normal posture. Your spine should be straight when you look front on, but when you look sideways, you should have a natural S shaped curve. If you’re slouched or hunched, make a conscious effort to adjust your posture. When you do this you should notice that your position feels more natural and comfortable.
  • Use a cushion or a lumbar roll for support when sitting in a chair or in the car.
  • Avoid squishy chairs that don’t provide your body with adequate support.
  • Get a mattress that supports your body correctly when you’re sleeping.
  • When lifting and putting down heavy things, use your hips, knees and thighs – not your back. And keep the object close to your body when you’re carrying it.
  • Exercise and strengthen the muscles around your torso and pelvis (your core muscles).
  • Use prompts – eg. a post-it note, a pop-up reminder – on your computer or your phone to remind you to think about your posture. This can help you correct youself if you start slouching or hunching.

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