Nancy Whelan, PT
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Are you slouching? Stretches and Exercises to Help with Pain and Posture
A recent study published in the European Heart Journal cited 8.5 hours as the average time most working Americans sit each day! Over that period of time, we start to slouch. This affects the low back because we are sitting in the reverse of the natural curve of our back. It affects our neck because we are encouraging the dreaded dowager's hump. Most back pain issues come from ligament and muscle strain or weakness.
Sitting properly at a desk or when we are driving, stretching to break up prolonged sitting in one position and strengthening of core and back muscles , all make a huge impact on posture.
If you're reading this , I bet you are sitting taller with your shoulders back right now! Being conscious of your posture is key. Remember the old adage, you can't correct the problem unless you know you have one?
There are a multitude of exercises to correct posture out there but until you become conscious of your posture in sitting and standing, you won't be able to exact a change.
Proper positioning of the computer: the screen should be eye level, the desk height should allow the forearms to rest comfortably at 90 degrees, feet should be flat on the floor with your back against the chair. Set an alarm on your phone or clock to remind yourself to get up every 20-30 minutes to do the following stretch.
Standing with your hands on your hips , like your putting your hands in your back pockets, pull your chin in and squeeze your elbows together. Repeat 10 times.
This position puts you into the natural inward curve of your neck and low back. Also, placing a rolled towel behind your lower back and the back of a chair or car seat helps to maintain your natural lumbar curve.
Taking core strengthening classes like Pilates and stretching class like Yoga are just two of the many ways you can learn to recognize and release tension that may be habitual that interferes with good posture.
Are you still slouching after all this information? The European Journal of Social Psychology did a study of people told to sit up straight vs. people told to slouch performing a specific task. The ones with the good posture said they had more self-confidence vs. the ones that slouched.
Nancy Whelan, PT , is the owner of the West Palm Beach Physical Therapy Center . Physical therapists are licensed professionals qualified to treat a variety of conditions such as arthritis, auto and sports related injuries, fractures and joint replacements, back pain, muscle sprains/strains and repetitive use injuries as well as postural problems that may cause neck, back and arm pain.