May is National Posture Month, which is good timing because in today's overworked, technology- and convenience-driven society, posture has taken a big hit lately.
Let's review a few of the common causes – and how you can address them to ensure you avoid posture-related health issues, now and down the road:
Problem #1: Screen Staring: Case in point – you're reading this article right now on a screen, whether a personal computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone. You're staring into that tiny (in some cases, really tiny) screen, reading tiny words and looking at tiny images. What happens to your body? Your neck cranes forward, your shoulders slump and hunch; in a nutshell, your posture goes into the tank. And other computer-related activities that have become so commonplace in our society, like text messaging and video game-playing, only compound the problem.
The Fix: Limit screen time; take small breaks when typing; be aware of how your posture changes when you're using a computer, phone, etc., so you can adjust accordingly.
Problem #2: Sit on This. We're at work all day and on the couch all night. We're increasingly sedentary and increasingly obese - a bad combination that puts our posture at risk. Let's start with the workplace: Is your chair provide adequate support for your low back? Is your computer / keyboard positioned appropriately so your shoulders don't drop? And what about at home? Do you slump into a recliner or couch and watch reality television night after night, with no regard for your posture? Bad, bad and more bad.
The Fix: Sit less, move more; make sure your chair and keyboard are properly positioned such that your low back is supported and you can type / view the screen without slumping forward. Think about your mattress / pillow as well; are they giving you the support you need?
Problem #3: Ignorance Isn't Bliss. Too many people don't think about their posture in the first place. Trust us, it takes conscious effort and awareness. When we're busy, tired or just plain distracted, our posture tends to suffer – we forget to stand tall and sit upright, and our spine pays the price, leading to needless pain.
The Fix: Don't ignore your posture! Whether you're walking, sitting or lying down, think about your posture. Stand tall, sit straight, look straight ahead, and remind yourself constantly that good posture = good health.