These posture correction tips for your back are more important than ever if you have bad posture or you’re working from home at the moment. Good posture benefits your health and also productivity. Good posture is the most efficient position when sitting, standing, sleeping, walking and lying in everyday life. So how do we fix our chair posture and set up our ergonomics to correct and support our back when working from home.
If you stretch regularly or practice yoga posture you may be aware of your trouble areas already, however most people aren’t. Posture is a major factor of lower back pain, shoulder and neck pain with associated tension headaches. If you have poor posture, are you aware of it and do you know how to correct and fix it? Sure you can wear a back brace posture corrector to help in the short term but for a long term fix let’s look at some poor postural habits, work ergonomics and posture exercises.
The very first step in correcting your posture is to identify your bad posture faults and postural habits. The most common postural faults that need correcting are rounded shoulders, a curved thoracic back, forward neck, forward head and an anterior pelvic tilt. Bad postural habits might include crossing your legs, slouching the shoulders, forward neck, computer screen not at eye level, working in bed on a laptop and resting your elbow on the desk holding your head.
The best posture in the sitting position is knees at 90 degrees, hips at 90 degrees, eyes level with screen, elbows relaxed at 90 degrees, feet flat on the ground, lower back curve supported in the seat with core engaged and relaxed shoulders. This is the most efficient energy saving position. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. If you are working from home sitting at your desk you might have problems with the neck, shoulders and mid back.
Sitting all day can also contribute to serious misalignment in the lower back and pelvis called lower cross syndrome. This is where prolonged sitting causes tight hip flexors, weak glutes and core. Prolonged sitting shortens the hip flexors the muscles including the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, and tensor fascia lata. These muscles cross the front of the hip and pull the front of the hip forward. If you’re an office worker or sit for many hours every day without stretching your hip flexors regularly, they will gradually lose their normal length, causing the pelvis to tilt forward known as an anterior pelvic tilt. This pelvic tilting can be seen in standing posture.
An anterior pelvic tilt causes an excessive lordosis or swayback posture. Sway back posture is an excessive curve of both the lumbar and thoracic spine. An excessive lordosis contributes to chronic tightness and pain in the lower back muscles. It can also cause lower back pain by compressing the facet joints, the small joints along the vertebrae of the spine. The facet joints weren’t designed to take full weight in this compressed way and over time this can wear away the cartilage lining of the joints and cause arthritis. Overtime this accelerates wearing and tear on cartilage after many years of sitting, standing, and walking with excessive lordosis which ultimately contributes to living with a chronically painful arthritic lower back.
Exercise for Posture
Corrective exercises and stretches are important to reduce pain and stiffness in the body. Start training to have upright posture by doing strengthening exercises. When correcting posture with exercise we need to address rounded shoulders, a curved thoracic back, forward neck, forward head and tilted pelvis. Exercises should target stretching your pec either by doing a pec doorway stretch or using a foam roller, strengthening your rhomboids or back muscles by doing scapular retraction exercises, stretching hip flexors by doing a lunge stretch, performing chin tuck exercises for neck position and strengthening core and glutes by doing bridges or theraband work. These exercises for posture will help achieve a neutral spine also help in supporting and stabilising your back preventing flare up episodes.
Using a back corrector posture brace can help but it’s nothing you want to rely on. If you’re wearing a back brace to support your posture and spine overtime muscles will get lazy and atrophy will occur adding to the dysfunction already present. In short, if you’re using a back brace instead of exercising and strengthening your muscles it’s not going to end well. In saying that in short bursts when you know you’re going to be sitting at your desk for a long time it really does help pull your shoulders back and reminds you of what proper alignment feels like. The goal of a posture corrector should be to activate the muscles and remind the body of the optimal place to be.
Put these postural tips into place for your health and work towards permanently fixing your bad posture. Good posture means less back pain, neck strain with associated headaches and increased productivity.
I am a Clinical Myotherapist in Melbourne, owner of Motion Myotherapy Northcote and therapist at the Hawthorn Football Club. I am passionate about all aspects of health, fitness and specialises in treating all types of musculoskeletal injuries causing pain and dysfunction. I offer massage in Northcote region.