Courtesy of the NHS
If you have back pain, improving your posture is unlikely to address the root cause of your pain, but it may help alleviate muscle tension.
“Correcting your posture may feel awkward at first because your body has become so used to sitting and standing in a particular way,” says Sinfield.
“But with a bit of practise, good posture will become second nature and be one step to helping your back in the long term.”
Slouching doesn’t always cause discomfort, but over time this position can place strain on already sensitised muscles and soft tissues. This strain may increase tension in the muscles, which may in turn cause pain.
Get into the habit of sitting correctly. It may not feel comfortable initially because your muscles have not been conditioned to support you in the correct position.
Exercises to strengthen your core and buttock muscles, and back extensions, will help correct a slouching posture.
Exercises to correct a slumping posture:
To help correct your standing posture, imagine a string attached to the top of your head pulling you upwards.
The idea is to keep your body in perfect alignment, maintaining the spine’s natural curvature, with your neck straight and shoulders parallel with the hips.
Keep your shoulders back and relaxed
Pull in your abdomen
Keep your feet about hip distance apart
Balance your weight evenly on both feet
Try not to tilt your head forward, backwards or sideways
Keep your legs straight, but knees relaxed
Leaning on one leg
Leaning more on one leg while standing can feel comfortable, especially if you’ve been standing for a while.
But instead of using your buttocks and core muscles to keep you upright, you place excessive pressure on one side of your lower back and hip.
Over time, you may develop muscle imbalances around the pelvis area, which can cause muscular strain in the lower back and buttocks.
Other causes of uneven hips include carrying heavy backpacks on one shoulder, and mums carrying toddlers on one hip.
To improve this posture, try to get into the habit of standing with your weight evenly distributed on both legs.
Exercises to strengthen your buttocks and core muscles will help correct uneven hips:
Side-lying leg raises
Hunched back and ‘text neck’
Hunching over your keyboard is usually a sign that you have a tight chest and a weak upper back.
Over time, this type of posture can contribute to you developing a rounded upper back, which can cause shoulder and upper back stiffness.
When hunching over a computer, your head may tend to lean forward, which can lead to poor posture. Using a mobile can cause similar problems dubbed “text neck”.
Upper back, neck and rear shoulder strengthening exercises, chest stretches and neck posture drills are recommended to help correct a hunched back.
Exercises to correct a hunched back:
Gently lengthen your neck upwards as you tuck in your chin
Seated rows in a gym or pull-ups
Cradling your phone
Holding your phone handset between your ear and shoulder places strain on the muscles of the neck, upper back and shoulders.
The neck and shoulders are not designed to hold this position for any length of time.
Over time this posture can place strain on the muscles and other soft tissues, and lead to muscle imbalances between the left and right side of your neck.
Try to get into the habit of holding the phone with your hand, or use a hands-free device.
Exercises for neck stiffness and pain:
Neck stretches: gently lower your left ear towards your left shoulder. Hold for 10-15 deep breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
Neck rotations: slowly turn your chin towards one shoulder. Hold for 10-15 deep breaths. Repeat on opposite side.