In the era of sedentary living, where we spend our time computers and mobile devices, posture is becoming an exciting area of study. Folding the body in a chair, craning the neck to look at a screen, or having the shoulders rolled forward all day could contribute to negative thoughts and emotions, poor mobility, headaches, joint pain, and could even prevent your organs from functioning optimally.
Ideally, posture should be such that you’re standing completely straight when relaxed. If you were to draw a line, it would move from the ears, through the shoulders, hips, and knees, down through your ankles. Instead, growing numbers of people—and at a much younger age—have shoulders and necks rolled forward and hips pushed back.
Fortunately, posture can be improved by a few lifestyle changes, and the sooner you apply them, the better. Although some individuals would be best served by working with a physical therapist or movement specialist, here are a few things you can do, at home, right now:
- Stand up and move around. Too much sitting is highly associated with posture problems and joint pain, with the only remedy being increased activity. Try to include more movement during the day and aim to stand up or go for a little walk—even if it’s just to the kitchen or bathroom—every 20 to 30 minutes.
- Bring your phone to your face. Ideally, you could use your phone less. But for many people, smartphones have become an extension of the human body. Bringing your phone up to eye level instead of looking down at the screen can help the shoulders and neck, while possible preventing neck strain, backaches, and headaches.
- Neck extensions. To encourage good posture in your neck and prevent head tilt and neck pain, try this simple stretch.
- Sit comfortably with head firmly planted to the headrest or your hands.
- Hold for 30 seconds pushing as hard as you can and repeat multiple times.
- Elastic pulls. This stretch can help with back and shoulder posture, helping to battle against slumped, forward-rolling shoulders.
- Hold an exercise band in front of you at shoulder height.
- Stretch it across the chest with a slight bend at the elbows. Return to starting position and repeat several times.
These actions can help you get on your way to better posture. Of course, that’s not all you can do, and a physical therapist is the best choice for those with poor mobility and more compromised posture problems.
Mohan Garikiparithi received his degree in medicine from Osmania University (University of Health Sciences). This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.