November Health & Wellbeing Blog
Posture Up For The Winter!
This month’s blog idea came to me whilst researching back pain in depth for a specific issue with a client. I was stunned to learn that over 7 in 10 adults in the UK have suffered with back pain at some point in their lives.
The most common cause of back pain…….bad posture!
It is unsurprising in this digital age we live in, that poor posture is becoming a real problem as most people are either working at a desk for extensive periods, hunched over looking at their mobile phone or indulging in the latest Netflix series on the couch. We all do it, even as I sit writing this blog I sometimes find myself unconsciously straying from a sound postural position, even though I’m routinely thinking about my posture! We can really help ourselves though with just a few minor adjustments.
To summarise how poor posture culminates in back pain; the load placed on your spine is not dispersed correctly and results in strain across the back and shoulders. Ultimately, the complex arrangement of muscles, joints and discs within your back are stressed beyond their natural limit. The tension placed on the upper spine, neck and shoulders can also cause severe headaches at the base of the skull which can spread through to the forehead.
As most people, particularly office workers, spend in excess of 8 hours a day at a desk, it is vital to assume the correct sitting position. That is literally a third of your day spent at the desk or approximately 40 hours per week. Our spines, neck and shoulders are not really designed for this sort of strain when poor posture is adopted and this will take its toll over time.
Every half hour or so, reach up and stretch your arms above your head and as far back as they will comfortably will go. A Physiotherapist I worked with cited this simple stretch as the most beneficial stretch for those who struggle to leave their desks during the working day; your spine, neck and shoulders will thank you. This stretch, and the advice below, is exactly the same for Wheelchair users.
Keep feet flat or on either the floor or a footrest
Avoiding crossing knees or ankles
Place ankles in front of the knees
Relax the shoulders
keeping the forearms and knees parallel to the floor where possible
Sit up straight and look forward without straining the neck
keep the back against the chair, or use a backrest or avoiding sitting for long periods at a time, ideally taking at least a 10-minute break for every hour of sitting
To summarise, we all spend long periods of time sitting down. Sitting incorrectly, especially at a desk, will be bad for spine health and have long term posture implications.
However, by knowing what a good sitting posture looks like and following these few simple rules, most people can learn how to self-correct and thus achieve good posture.
Simply pulling your shoulders back can also enhance your mental health by increasing confidence, sitting or standing proud with your shoulders pinned back helps exude confidence. Posture and confidence – You can’t have one without the other!
Making additional lifestyle changes, such as undertaking a good amount of various exercises and taking movement breaks throughout the day, will also help.
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