“Stand up straight!” Remember when your mother used to nag you about your
posture? Well, it turns out that she was giving you the best advice for
protecting your back. Maintaining good posture is one of the easiest and
simplest ways to help keep your back healthy and pain-free.
Maintaining the curves
Good posture is actually quite simple. A normal spine is shaped like a double
“S” curve. These curves balance each other, so that your head sits on top of a
very stable pillar. To maintain good posture, your goal is to keep these natural
curves in balance while standing, sitting or lying down. If these curves are
increased (sway back) or decreased (flat back), your spine becomes unstable.
Your muscles, ligaments and joints have to work much harder to support your
head, which inevitably leads to muscle fatigue and back pain.
Follow these simple guidelines and you’ll find that your posture will improve
and you’ll look and feel much better.
|•||A good standing position brings your
body into straight, vertical alignment.
|•||If you’re standing properly, your ears,
shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are stacked directly on top of each other.
You should be able to draw a straight line from the top of your head,
through your body’s centre, down to the bottom of your feet.
|•||Even if you have the best posture, you
can fatigue your back by standing in one place too long. To give your back
some relief, try these tips:
|o||Take a break and walk
around from time to time.
|o||Rest one foot on a block
or stool approximately six to eight inches high.
|o||Stretch forward or
backward or crouch down for a few minutes to relax your back muscles.
|•||Just like the standing position, a
good sitting position will stack your ears over your shoulders and your
shoulders over your hips. You should be able to draw a straight line
directly from the top of your head to your hips.
|•||When you sit, your pelvis should be in
a neutral position and your buttocks should be resting against the back of
the chair. Your spine should be supported along its natural curves, allowing
your muscles to relax.
|•||Poor sitting posture is a frequent
hazard for many people, because we tend to sit in poorly designed chairs
with inadequate back support. Keep these points in mind whenever you sit for
|o||The height of your seat
should keep your knees level with, or slightly higher than your hips.
|o||Keep your feet supported
– if your chair is too high, rest your feet on a footstool or box.
|o||To prevent lower back
strain, keep a lumbar roll or rolled up towel between your lower back and
the back of the chair.
|o||If you sit at a
computer, adjust the screen height to eye level and adjust your chair so
that you don’t have to lean forward.
|o||Stand up regularly (at
least every 45 minutes) and walk around.
|•||When you’re lying down or sleeping,
try resting on your side, with your hips and knees bent. If you prefer to
bend only one knee, place a pillow under your knee to prevent twisting and
strain on your back.
|•||If you prefer to lie on your back, try
bending your knees and put a pillow underneath them to relieve unnecessary
|•||Your mattress can be an ongoing cause
of tired, aching back muscles. Here are some valuable tips to make your
bedtime more comfortable:
|o||Choose a firm mattress.
A sagging mattress gives you very poor back support.
|o||A good mattress gives
firm support along the length of your body and comfortably follows the
natural curve of your back.
|o||Sleeping with more than
one pillow can exaggerate the curve of your neck and put extra pressure on
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