Health Tip of the Week: Posture

posture_hullamSit up!

Since it’s Correct Posture Month this May, our tip of the week is to sit up!

As a culture, our posture has gotten increasingly worse over the years because of our preference for comfort. Our sofas, beds, and even our desk chairs are not always built to keep you sitting up straight, but rather to keep you as comfortable as possible for the duration of time you spend there.

The funny thing is that your natural posture is actually the most comfortable posture to be in! You’ve just gotten used to walking around slouched over, hunching over your computer keyboard, and cozying slantways into the corner of the couch.

Standing up:

Good posture when you stand up is usually easier than when sitting, when you’re tempting to melt into the furniture.

Stand up straight, distributing the weight evenly on your feet, and on the different parts of your feet. This is an ingrained behavior to keep you from falling over, but becoming aware of it can help you improve your posture.

Hold your head up. This means keeping your neck in line with your spine, which should be straight, with a slight inward bend near the base, in its natural curve. Don’t tilt your head back or let it hang too far forward. This puts a lot of strain on your neck muscles!

Push your shoulders back. You don’t have to stick your chest out to do this, but your shoulders should be down, away from your ears, and pushed toward each other slightly so that your arms are more in line with your sides rather than hanging in front of you.

It may help to watch yourself in a mirror to see what you look like when you stand “normally”, and then how you should look when you have correct posture.

Sitting down:

Whether you’re at your desk or watching TV, being mindful of your posture will save you a lot of pain later on if you can work on it now.

Again, hold your head up. This can be tough if you’re working on a computer, or worse, if you’re using a tablet or mobile phone because the inclination is to tilt your head down to look at what you’re doing. A simple solution is a monitor stand for your computer. For your tablet or mobile device, here’s a good way to keep your posture in good shape while looking down at your device: don’t just tilt your head down, move your upper body forward so that you can keep your neck and spine aligned while your head is down. It may take some practice, but it’ll help keep the crick out of your neck after hours of reading or viewing videos on that iPad!

Lying down:

Yes, it’s even important to have good posture while you sleep! You’ll wake up feeling so much better if you can work on your sleep posture.

Back sleepers. You’re in luck! Sleeping on your back is actually best because it best preserves the natural curve and weight of your body on the bed. However, if your bed is too soft or too firm, that alignment will be off. To fix it, you can do some strategic pillow placement, mainly to keep your head from sinking too far and putting your neck below the rest of your spine, or too high above it. Also a small pillow or a folded towel at the base of may help keep your lower back from bowing and sinking into the bed, and it will support it to keep the natural curve intact while you sleep.

Side sleepers. A softer bed is actually more in your favor because it allows the heaviest parts, your hips, head, shoulders, and legs, to sink in where they should. But, having a good pillow that keeps your head in line with your spine, and adding a pillow between your legs will also help. That way, your hips and lower back will stay in better alignment while you sleep, and if you toss and turn a lot, it may help you kick that habit!

Stomach sleepers. Here, you may be best off without a pillow, or with a very soft, flat one. Part of the problem with this position is you have to turn your head to the side to breathe while you sleep, and this automatically starts you off with your back and neck out of alignment. Sleeping without a pillow under your head can alleviate this a little bit. You may also consider using a body pillow to prop under you to help tilt you onto your side just enough to adjust for the twist in your neck.

Good posture is important: it can help you avoid back and neck pain later on, you’ll look a lot taller, and you may even seem more confident to the people around you! Plus, you may find yourself feeling, and looking, a whole lot better overall!

Learn more about correct posture and how to maintain your bone and muscle health on the American Chiropractic Association’s website:

Photo by: Flickr user hullam

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The information on this website is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition. Please consult your doctor before attempting any of the exercises, remedies, or health tips on this website to make sure you are healthy enough to do so.
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