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Is Bad Posture ‘Killing’ Your Back?

Got a cranky, achy back? The world you live, work and play in is taking a big (bad) toll on your posture and spine health – think about it:

….workdays spent hunched over a desk.

….countless hours looking down looking at your phone.

….back to back trips behind the wheel carpooling kiddos.

….mornings / afternoons hovered over the counter scarfing down breakfast and lunch.

Top it off with all the other, daily tasks you are responsible for completing and you are well on your way to a cranky, achy back!

This is especially true if most of your workday is spent sitting for hours on end with poor posture and weak muscles. I am sorry to say it’s only a matter of time until some minor discomfort snowballs into long term back issues that will make your life harder, painful and limiting – yikes!

[and if you think this doesn’t matter or won’t catch up, I guarantee it’s better to do something NOW before it’s too late!]

Today’s blog is all about posture, so you never ever have to deal with a cranky, achy back:

  • How your own bad/good posture = the make (or break!) for your long-term spinal health.

  • 4 Ways to improve your posture and prevent future issues!


YOUR BODY IS DESIGNED TO MOVE

Is sitting all day really that bad?  Let’s all agree, nothing feels better than slithering into PJ’s and assuming a comfy position on the couch after a long day. It feels SO good that sitting MUST be good for you, right? Not so fast! 

Your body is designed to move!

And, I’m not just preaching this as a fitness coach. While sitting for brief periods helps your body recover from exercise and stress, staying sedentary for extended periods of time is likely the root cause of back and muscle aches. 

Did you know each of us contain over 300 joints and almost 700 muscles to help our bodies move while providing the structurally support to do so?

Even our skin is elastic! The human body is primed and ready for movement at any time so why do so many people live such sedentary lives? 

Present day society includes excessive screen time on computers, tablets and smart phones. If working a sedentary desk job, take the next 30 seconds to consider how many of your waking hours are spent sitting:

There are 24 hours in a day:

  • Sleep = 7 hours (on average)

  • Work = 8 hours (on average)

  • Exercise = 1 hour (on average if you exercise)

  • Total = 16 hours accounted for, only 1 where you are moving.

What are you doing those other 7 hours?

Are you moving or….mostly sitting?

Work aside, what you do after work isn’t any better! Instead of being hunched over your keyboard, you’re hunched over a phone scrolling, over the bathtub bathing kids, over the changing table swapping diapers, over a laundry basket folding clothes, over the couch captivated by Netflix.

Life both in and outside of work contributes to poor posture and a natural tendency to assume a hunched over (you may even by hunched right now reading this!).

This all too familiar “hunched” position means your shoulders are rounded forward, there’s flexion in your lumbar (lower) spine and your head is leaning forward.  A quick visual is thinking of your poor posture as the letter  “C”:

Not only does this “C” position place uneven pressure on your spine, but your joints, ligaments and muscles holding everything in place are stretching to accommodate this constant displacement of pressure —eek!  Even your lungs are being compromised (not good). When hunched over, your chest cavity compresses your lungs, prohibiting you from taking a full breath.  This means there isn’t enough oxygen flowing into your brain and throughout the rest of your body – what a nightmare!!

Ever feel some numbness or even tingling in your knees, lower back and ankles after sitting all day?

This could possibly be a side effect of a sedentary lifestyle.  Cartilage, nerves, arteries, and veins are made of delicate tissue and prolonged sitting and uneven pressure can cause nerve signals to be blocked.  Blood isn’t flowing through the muscles properly and as a result, those muscles start to swell and ache!

So …..what should you do to stop this spinal madness?!

Afterall, you have to go to work, drive the kids around, bathe them, keep up on social media, fold the laundry, unwind with your fave show. This feels like an unavoidable predicament!!!??


4 WAYS TO [IMMEDIATELY] IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE

Getting a little nervous about this posture stuff? Finding yourself shifting and straightening up since reading this blog?

Look at you already being more mindful and improving your posture! But, what do you when busy, sidetracked and not reading a blog telling you to “straighten up!”?

Have no fear – I have 4 ways to immediately improve your bad posture! First and foremost, if required to sit all day, always try to adopt a more upright position:  shoulders down, head up and that spine in line!  By keeping shoulders down, you are helping your body avoid that front lean, hunched over position you naturally assume without realizing it! Now, let’s getting working on that bad posture of yours – here’s how:

#1. Make The Letter W:  While sitting at your desk or standing up if you don’t mind coworkers staring, make the letter ‘W’ with your arms.  Then, move your elbows down toward your hips and shoulder blades together to make an even tighter ‘W’.   Think about those shoulder blades are being tucked into your back pocket. 

To get started: Aim to do this exercise 3 times/day following this rep scheme: 10 reps, holding each for 5 seconds. This will help open up your chest and shoulders and stack your vertebrae one on top of the other.

#2. Do Chin tucks:  Your head weighs about 10-14 lbs, so if your neck is strained all day in a forward position, we need to work the opposing muscles.  You accomplish this by sliding your chin backwards and into your neck like you were making a double chin. 

To get started: Do chin tucks every hour following this rep scheme: 10 reps, holding each for 10 seconds. Hold your head there for 10 seconds.

#3. Start Walking: Whether you’re taking a lap around the office or the long way to the bathroom, hitting these extra steps increases blood flow as well as oxygen flow to your brain, lungs and muscles while reducing swelling and increasing productivity.

To get started: Mindfully get up and move every 60 minutes, for a minimum of 5 minutes. Set your phone alarm as a reminder to get up and move!

#4. Buy a better chair: If you’re spending 8+ hours / day in a chair, it better be a comfortable one!  Make it a priority to find a chair with adequate back support. There are also detachable lumbar support pillows that fit the curvature of your spine and provide more back support while sitting.

Below are some recommendations, keeping in mind to AVOID ANYTHING MESH!  Instead, you want your chair or support pillow to be firm but breathable.  Mesh chairs and pillows wear and tear more easily, and don’t provide as much support compared to a firmer, memory pillow style option.

To get started: here are a few recommendations for lumbar support and better chairs. Remember, if you are sitting for 8+ hours each day, you need to be investing in a really amazing chair or related accessories – happy shopping!

Lumbar support pillows: CLICK HERE or HERE!

Lumbar support chairs: CLICK HERE! or HERE!


NOw…..to be fair, I know what you may be thinking and how you’re already convinced you can’t do anything about your bad posture because…

#1. Work! “But I HAVE to be at my desk all day – there is no way I can get up and move every hour.”

Totally valid!  Some days we are stuck in meetings or have that important, never ending conference call.  But, those are usually not an everyday occurrence so aim for those 5-minute walks every 60 minutes whenever possible!  That might be parking in the back of the lot for a longer walk at the beginning and end of your day.  It could mean lapping the football field while Johnny is practicing instead of dropping him off and going home. It could mean waking a few minutes earlier to start your day with a few laps around your house. Sit down, map out how/where you can add movement into your day and schedule your alarm reminders accordingly!

#2. Relaxation / “Me Time” “I love watching TikTok’s and reels – it helps me wind down for the night.”

Don’t get me wrong, I also enjoy too much time on social media so if you don’t want to give up the scroll, try this: instead of keeping your phone in your lap and looking down, try holding your phone up in front of your face to reduce that forward head position.  Another great idea is picking a time to shut all electronics off! Give yourself a solid hour or so to scroll but once 60 minutes is up, put that phone down!


HERE’S EXACTLY WHAT TO DO NEXT:

Remember, how you maintain or lose posture throughout your day is one of the biggest contributing factors to your long-term spinal health!  Once you’re done reading this blog, try out those 10-20 ‘W’s’ and chin tucks! Next, set an alarm on your phone every hour to get up and walk for 5 minutes. Finally, use your “wind down time” to shop for a better chair or, lumbar support pillow. I promise making time to complete these exercises and walk every 60 minutes will immediately improve your posture and keep your spine super healthy; resulting in less aches and pains PLUS, an increase in energy!

 

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