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Tips on maintaining good posture

I recently had the opportunity to write an article for Weight Watchers Magazine.  It is fantastic that physiotherapists can offer advice to the general public through such a medium.  With so many patients complaining of back and neck pain from the way they stand and sit it is great to be able to offer insight into ways to combat poor posture.  To expand on the article here is more advice on adopting good posture:

What is the number one thing most people are doing wrong when it comes to their posture?

The number one thing people do wrong when correcting their posture is to overcorrect.  Straightening up does not involve forcing a straight position which can result in muscles overworking and eventually resulting in pain.  Good posture involves drawing up tall using your core muscles.

What are some great preventative tips, to ensure your posture is up to scratch?

It’s not too late to change your posture just follow these simple tips to ensure your posture is up to scratch:

1) Bring your feet parallel, not turned out, and about hip width apart with weight evenly distributed.

2) Reach up through the top of your head, feeling your spine lengthen, getting tall.  Remember not to overcorrect.

3) Bring your pelvis into a neutral position.  This means making sure its level, not sloping to one side and there is a slight natural curve in the small of your back (make sure you haven’t resulted in a “sway back”) and your tummy muscles are gently drawn inwards

4) Draw your shoulders back and relax them down.

5) Level your chin, keeping your head directly over the spot between your shoulders, not forward or back.

Lastly it is important to repetitively evaluate your position to continue to remind yourself of good posture.

What’s something about posture that most people don’t realise?

Posture should be effortless.  It involves your core muscles (the deep tummy muscles, the small spine muscles and the deep neck flexors) working at only 25-30% effort all day.  If you are working hard to stay up straight chances are you are using the big moving muscles to hold you straight.  This results in these muscles overworking and is one of the reasons why people complain of lower back pain and shoulder/neck pain.