50.2 million Americans report chronic pain — is there a common denominator that’s the cause of discomfort for millions of people? There are seemingly endless medical conditions that could contribute to chronic pain (pain that persists for months or years) but having poor posture for an extended period will almost always lead to chronic pain.
3 Steps to Improve Your Posture
You may think poor posture only affects the spine, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Maybe you’re unaware of your poor posture habits. Harvard Health says poor posture can cause poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties. Researchers don’t believe the negative implications stop there. Several studies are investigating whether posture affects mood, jaw alignment, sleep, and fatigue. Here’s what you should know about posture to ensure your body is ready to take on whatever you throw its way.
Step 1: Test Your Posture
Here’s the thing: you could easily have poor posture that hasn’t resulted in chronic pain (yet). Unfortunately, the body doesn’t know good from bad. It just does what you tell it! No alarm alerts you when your head or shoulders are too far forward. The idea is that you should understand how to regularly check in with your body to identify if you have poor posture.
One way to test your posture at home is to lie on the floor. This lying position is typically called the natural fallout or turnout. Once you lay on the floor, take a moment to be aware of your body. Do you feel any discomfort when lying flat on the ground? People who work on computers tend to feel slight discomfort when lying down because they’re typically hunched forward regularly — making it hard for the body to return to a neutral position when lying flat. It’s definitely not normal to feel discomfort when lying flat on the ground!
Another way to test your posture is by sitting. Trying this test is simple: sit in a chair and push your feet down into the floor. You’ll feel the ground connect with your body. You’ll notice your body begins to rise and naturally falls into alignment because you’re connected from the floor to your head. This test is an excellent indicator of how aligned your body should feel throughout the day.
Step Two: Work on Your Posture
After trying these quick at-home tests, you should get a pretty good idea of your posture. If you’re like most people, you may have just realized your posture needs some work! One of the best ways to strengthen your posture is to increase movement and training!
There are specific posture exercises that will improve your posture. While doing some of these during your free time at home can help, we recommend speaking to one of our chiropractors for the best results. Not only can they treat you to alleviate pain, but our chiropractors can also guide you through specific mobility exercises to strengthen the proper muscles to support better posture!
Lastly, it’s important to remember that everything in the body is connected! Your posture will improve if you periodically remind yourself to be aware of the connections in your body (we recommend doing this during a workout or meditation).
Step 3: Practice Your Posture
While it can be difficult to remind yourself to check in with your posture, it’s a critical component of your overall health. It’s virtually impossible to perform at your best with poor posture that doesn’t support your body the way it should. Good posture will keep your bones and joints in better alignment, support your muscles, and decrease the stress placed on your joints and spine.
Try finding random times throughout the day to check in with your posture and correct it! Your mind needs to train your body to maintain good posture. In the beginning, you may want to set a timer on your phone to check your posture regularly or ask a coworker to work on their posture with you and remind each other to check it every time you see each other.