Posture is a personal thing. What I mean by that is that there are many variations of normal and I’m a big believer that one person’s ideal posture is not necessarily exactly the same as the next. Not all people with ‘bad posture’ have pain, while other may experience problems.
With that in mind it’s hard to prescribe hard and fast rules for perfect posture but there are certainly some guidelines that can apply to the majority of us when It comes to having good ‘postural hygiene’. Let’s break it down a little because posture can be influenced by your environment and there are aspects of ones work, home and social surroundings that need to be considered.
For all the desk jockeys out there that spend 6,8,10 + hours glued to a computer screen I’d like you to take a quick look around at your workstation. Your feet should be flat on the floor, no crossed legs please it’s not good for your hips! The height of your desk should be about level with your elbows when your shoulders are in nice relaxed position. Take a deep breathe, nice and slowly in and out, let your shoulders drop, now measure again. The keyboard should be front and central, forearms supported and wrists neutral. The centre of your screen should sit at eye level and if you raise one hand out to shoulder height your fingertips should just touch the screen.
It’s all well and good to have an impeccable desk setup but I can guarantee it’s all for nothing if you don’t actually get out of your desk regularly to give your back a break. Those with standing desks, hi-five yourself, you’ve taken one step in the right direction but some of the above ergonomic considerations definitely still apply.
Are you a parent?
Especially those with babies & toddlers; all the lifting, nappy changing, breast / bottle feeding and carrying around your youngsters is challenging enough, don’t make it harder on yourself by adopting poor positions. For example, nappy changing; set the change table at a height where you don’t have to bend forward for extended periods of time tending to your little one. If you are carrying kids they should ideally be carried in a central carrier on either the front or back as opposed to on one hip. These may seem like little things but when you do them every day they can actually be big things.
Hitting the gym?
You need to have good posture both when you train but also one should be mindful of how their specific training can impact on posture. For example, if you love lifting heavy weights your program needs to be balanced. Don’t just train the mirror muscles (chest, abs and arms), your reflection may be that of an adonis but your body may pay the price. For every chest exercise you need to have at least two back exercises. A strong back lays the foundations for good shoulder, neck and head position. With that being said I would encourage most people to be doing some form of strengthening for their upper and mid back. You don’t need a gym, in fact you can you can train some of the biggest players in the postural game with a piece of resistance band in your living room.
Of course these few factors is only small pieces to a very big puzzle. Posture is a daily practice. Those few minor changes you make may add up to be the major change your body needs to prevent posture related pain and dysfunction.