Poor posture can often be the cause of back problems. When we don’t hold ourselves correctly and safely, the spine is subjected to abnormal stresses that over time can lead to unnecessary wear and tear of spinal structures, reduced function and poor health.
That is why it is vital to learn the principals of proper body posture. It’s not difficult and once you get used to them, they can easily be incorporated into your daily life.
We have all been told since childhood to “stand up straight”. But it’s easy to get into bad habits. Good posture means the spine is in a “neutral” position. But what does good posture look like?
Try the following:
- Stand with your feet apart and your weight evenly distributed and mostly on the ball of each foot, rather than the heel.
- Keep your legs straight but avoid locking your knees.
- Tuck your stomach in but do not tilt your pelvis forward or backward.
- Pull the shoulders back and lift your chest.
- Lift your chin until it is level and relax your jaw and mouth.
That’s it, perfect posture! Feel how balanced the spine is? Very little energy is now required to keep it that way. Practice this position until it becomes second nature and you will have perfect posture every day without having to think about it.
Being aware of your posture during all of your daily activities is the best way to ensure you are using good body mechanics. Millions of people spend a large amount of their time on their feet. Standing work, including bending, lifting, carrying and reaching can be tough on the back – especially if proper body mechanics are not being used. Use the following guidelines to help minimise the risk of injury to your back when doing standing work:
- Avoid standing in one position for long periods of time. Change your position as often as you can. This will not only help relieve stress on your spine, it also helps increase circulation and decrease muscle fatigue.
- Stretch. Gentle stretching exercises during a break can help ease muscle tightness.
- Be aware of your posture. Are you standing correctly? Recheck throughout your day.
- Make sure the surface you are standing on is firm and level.
- When lifting an object, avoid bending and twisting at the same time. Instead, move close to and directly in front of the object. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and shoulders are apart. Bend the knees and lift smoothly. Use the same movement when putting the object down again.
- Avoid overreaching. If you have to reach up to a high level, make sure you are standing on a firm level surface. Avoid standing on tiptoes. Not only is this an unstable position to stand in, for prolonged periods of time it can place unnecessary strain on the back and neck.
It’s easy to incorporate the principals mentioned above into your daily life. It may seem unnatural at first, but if you keep at it, they will very easily become routine. Your perfect practice will result in perfect posture and your body will thank you for it.
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