5 Ways to Improve Your Posture
We sit a lot. We sit when we drive, most of us sit at a computer when we work, we sit to read or watch TV… the list goes on. You may have heard the phrase “sitting is the new smoking.” While that may be a bit extreme, there is truth to the fact that our bodies suffer from an abundance of stillness.
One of the most devastating effects of sitting is poor posture. Posture affects the way you hold your body, the way you walk, the way your muscles react, and how your spine is aligned. At Northern Nevada Chiropractic, we often see patients who have back pain due to poor posture. We work with patients through manual manipulation, exercises, spinal decompression, and take-home devices to improve posture and help them lead a pain-free life.
Here are the five ways that we recommend patients improve their posture.
1. Limit Device Time
One of the worst things we can do for our posture is stare at our phones. Overuse of small devices like phones and tablets can cause “tech neck”, a condition that strains your spine by looking down too much. Take a few minutes a couple times a week, or a day, and stretch your neck to help relieve that pressure and realign your posture. We have a video on tech neck stretches to walk you through the process.
2. Strengthen Your Posture
The docs at NNC recommended Posture Medic for patients who are serious about posture correction. The Posture Medic is a posture-reminding exercise band that helps you stretch, strengthen, and stabilize your back. It also includes a six-week program to guide you towards better posture. The program teaches you how to stretch tight muscles in your chest, neck and back, thereby loosening those muscles and giving you increased range of motion. The strengthening exercises specifically target the muscles in your neck and back that help you maintain proper posture. These back and neck muscles are often overlooked when working out and are underutilized due to our poor posture.
3. Get a Digital Foot Scan
A big reason we see improper posture is because of how we walk or stand. Back pain and bad posture are often a side effect of misaligned feet. At Northern Nevada Chiropractic, we use a system called Foot Levelers that measures your feet and tells us where there are alignment or support issues. It is a free service and included with your normal chiropractic visit, just ask for a Foot Levelers scan at your next appointment. The scan will give us good information on how to change your stance to improve posture. The doctor may even recommend a custom orthotic to align your spine and improve your gate.
4. Stretching and Exercise
Poor posture is often the result of weak muscles in the back and core. Getting at least 30 minutes of low-impact exercise a day will help strengthen muscles that support posture and keep your back aligned and straight. This may include walking, cycling, swimming, yoga, and pilates.
Additionally there are specific stretches you can do to help relieve fatigue and support proper posture. One of our favorites is the Pectoral Stretch. This is particularly effective for people who work in an office at a computer, or individuals constantly in a hunched forward position.
Another great exercise is the Office Relief stretch. It’s official name is the Bruegger’s Relief Posture, which helps to combat fatigued postural muscles while seated. Performing this exercise a few times a day will get rid of the “slump position” associated with poor posture.
5. Check Your Posture
You can monitor your own posture daily with a one-minute symmetry check. By checking your symmetry and range of motion, you will notice if you are misplacing your weight, compensating on one side or the other, or slumping. We often forget to check in with our bodies and just being mindful can help us self-correct posture issues.