Perfecting your Posture

Posted on 8th October, 2018

The importance of good posture cannot be overestimated.

Posture is defined as the position in which we hold our body when standing, sitting and sleeping.

Here at HSL we have made it our mission to help you understand the impact of poor posture, and the steps that can be taken to help improve it. Research has found that back pain is a leading cause of disability, with 1 in 10 people suffering from it. This figure substantially increases with age; a recent YouGov survey found that well over half (57%) of adults, aged 60+ have constant/ongoing aches and pains; of those who suffered, 60% experience pain in their back.

Through having a clear and thorough understanding of the benefits of good posture, you can greatly improve your health and wellbeing, giving you more time to do the things you most enjoy. Our independent Occupational Therapist, Julie Jennings, Dip COT HCPC has given us the following information and advice below on how important posture is:

The Impact of Bad Posture

Poor Circulation

When you slouch so does your spine, which can have an impact on your body’s circulation system, making it harder to breathe and move about.

Aches and Pains

Poor posture can cause your spine to deteriorate over time, leading to neck, back and shoulder pains, which in turn can cause headaches.

Fatigue

Poor posture will put extra strain and demand on your joints and muscles, leading to fatigue; coupled with poor circulation, where the body does not get enough oxygen, muscles and joints are more easily damaged and less likely to repair well.

Loss of Movement

A significant impact of poor posture can be loss of movement; all your joints have a range of motion that they are capable of, allowing you to move your body flexibly and respond to the activities of daily living. Poor posture prevents the normal range of motion from occurring, which, over time, will lead to muscle and joint deterioration and a reduction in movement.

Weight

As a nation, weight issues are becoming more common and as we get older, we tend to put on more weight through natural body and lifestyle changes, and reduced activity. Weight gain changes how our skeleton and muscles support themselves, which in turn affects our centre of gravity.

Loss of Independence

Having poor posture can lead to a loss of independence over time. Increased aches and pains, damaged muscles and joints, poor circulation and reduced activity, plus increased weight gain can lead to additional health problems and increased risk of accident, such as falls, leading to injury.

Poor posture can be caused by:

  • – Being over-weight
  • – Foot problems/unsupportive shoes
  • – Stress/depression
  • – Unsupportive seating – chairs that are too high/low
  • – Unsupportive mattress
  • – Weak muscles
  • – Genetics
  • – Lack of exercise/activity

 

Here’s a quick test to check your posture:

  1. Stand with the back of your head against a wall
  2. Place your heels 6 inches from the wall with your buttocks and shoulders touching the wall
  3. There should be less than 2 inches between your neck and small of your back and the wall
  4. A larger gap indicates poor posture and a curving spine

So what can we do about it?

Understanding good posture can help you realign your body the right way

When Sitting       

Do

Don’t

Ensure your feet are flat on the floor Keep your back perfectly straight
Your bottom is at the back of the seat and your lower back is supported Tuck feet under the chair
Your legs and hips are fully supported Cross your legs above the knees – this causes strain and poor circulation
Keep your head straight – not tilted up or down Work without first supporting your arms and shoulders
Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
The arm rests support your forearms and shoulders comfortably

 

When Standing       

Do

Don’t

Keep your shoulders back and aligned with your hips Stick your chest out or arch your back
Use your stomach muscles to keep your body straighter Stand in the same position for too long – move regularly and shift your weight
Slightly bend your knees to ease pressure from your hips Wear high heels when standing for long periods of time
Use good quality shoes that fit well

 

When Walking       

Do

Don’t

Strike the ground with your heel first and then roll onto your toes Look down at your feet
Look forwards – at a level several feet away from you Arch your back
Keep your stomach and buttocks in line with the rest of your body Hunch your shoulders

 

When Sleeping     

Do

Don’t

Use a firm mattress that provides even support Sleep on your stomach as this puts pressure through the neck and lower back
Minimize spinal curves by using pillows or upgrading your mattress Sleep with a lot of pillows that causes your neck to bend unnaturally
Try 5 minutes of gentle stretching before going to bed to ease tense muscles If you need to sleep upright because of breathing difficulties, make sure your shoulders and neck are fully supported
Try 2-5 minutes of relaxation/deep breathing to encourage good oxygen flow

And finally…

Did you know?

  • – Keeping your weight down can do wonders for improving your posture.
  • – Exercise (even gentle) is good for strengthening muscles and encouraging good range of motion in your joints, try to do a mixture of cardio (encouraging deep breathing) and weight bearing (strengthens and tones muscles) – 20 minutes per day is ideal.
  • – Practicing sitting and walking properly will make sure good posture becomes part of your natural habit.
  • – Making small changes can reap huge rewards in your general health and well-being.

 

The mind-set of having great posture is always at the forefront of our thinking here at HSL, and that’s why our Comfort Specialists in store have been trained by our Occupational Therapist, Julie Jennings,Dip COT HCPC, and will do a 7-Point Seating Assessment™ before advising you on the right CleverComfort™  designed chair, sofa or bed for you.