Posture provides clues about our health. Our posture gets out of normal alignment by activities we engage in day after day.
Modern life creates some of these problems while others are as old as time. Some problems are amenable to solutions. Others can be more difficult to solve.
Head tilt, sometimes accompanied with a high shoulder, often results from hours on a device in an awkward position. It often causes neck or shoulder pain, and sometimes headaches from resulting muscle tension. Carrying a heavy shoulder bag also can cause similar problems.
In the lower back, carrying loads awkwardly can cause one hip to ride higher than the other (unlevel pelvis). Ever had to alter your trousers due an unequal leg length? You may not notice it but your tailor does! This is usually due to the unlevel pelvis, not legs that grew unevenly.
Everyday Tips for Improving Posture
Here are some simple, everyday measures you can take to improve your posture over time.
1. Pay attention to your stance. Do you stand with your weight shifted to one leg? You are literally forcing your pelvis into misalignment. Avoid locking the knees when standing since this causes stress on the lower back and knees. Try keeping your weight balanced on both feet.
The idea is to maintain the natural curves of the spine; being neither too stiff nor too relaxed. Tighten your abdomen, tuck buttocks in, and hold your head erect with ears positioned above the middle of the shoulders.
2. Sitting in a sustainable position is an important everyday thing you can do to improve posture. It generally means siting back in chair, not on the edge, with your feet on floor. You can position a rolled towel or pillow above belt line to get extra low back support.
3. Lie down in a low-stress posture. Avoid sleeping on your stomach. Rather, lie on your side with your knees bent. Use a firm mattress. Also use a cervical pillow or position your regular pillow so that the neck remains as straight (horizontal) as possible.
4. A good quality headset is a worthwhile investment if you spend a lot of time on the phone. It eases stress and tension on the neck and shoulder, a problem that can build up if you stay in the same position for long periods.
5. Stretching exercises for the neck and shoulders are helpful and can be done in a couple of minutes at your desk. They give you a brief break and reduce the tension that commonly builds in the shoulders.
An added benefit is avoidance of carpal tunnel syndrome and other repetitive strain injuries. A one-minute break every thirty minutes has been found to significantly reduce the incidence of repetitive strain injuries.
6. Be smart about carrying items in a bag. If you must carry a heavy shoulder bag, eliminate objects you don’t need every day. Vary carrying the load from one shoulder to the other. Even better, consider a backpack that can balance the load on both shoulders.
7. Find well-balanced ways to carry children. A common cause of the unlevel pelvis is carrying children, which is a necessary part of child rearing. Women tend to carry a child on one hip.
There comes a point when the child can walk but still wants to be carried. This is a challenge to manage but if it becomes a serious contributor to a back problem the transition to self-reliance by the child will help. Using a stroller and finding creative ways of distracting the growing child can help. And your spouse needs to come to your aid to literally share the burden.
Professional Help is Available
Chiropractors along with other trained and experienced healthcare professionals can help you identify everyday activities that can be contributing to posture-related problems causing neck and back pain. They can train you to alter these stressful postures. Then it’s up to you to change the way you interact with the world to reduce the stress on your spine.