Poor Posture

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As a child your parents and teachers always touted the importance of good posture. These adults always said good posture makes you look confident and reputable, but they never said much about how poor posture can lead to back pain. Perhaps if they had we'd all have worked harder to sit or stand up tall with our backs straight and shoulders squared.

These days it is more common than not to see kids, teens and adults slouched over some electronic gadget or gizmo from video games and computers to lounging on the couch watching television. Combine that with the lack of focus on posture and you can see why millions of people all over the world now suffer from mild to severe back pain.

Once you understand just how poor posture can affect your pain and comfort levels you'll see why you just may want to start walking around with a large book atop your head.

Why Do You Have Poor Posture?

So part of it is that your mom never bugged you to sit up straight, but there are actually other reasons you hunch over more often than not.

One of those reasons is genetics. Spines are like fingerprints; unique but overall basically similar. Some of those spinal differences can lead to curvature, which makes proper posture difficult and in some cases, painful, to maintain. Then there are those born with malformed body parts such as a too long or too short leg, larger than average chest or large breasts. These are just a few things that can make proper posture difficult, but with the right help, good posture does not have to be an unobtainable goal.

The other, more common cause of poor posture, is environmental factors. For many adults under the age of 40 a major environmental cause is computers. Sitting at a desk for hours on end, bent over a computer screen, tablet, smartphone or e-reader can force your to sit in a way that you might find comfortable, but your spine does not.

Other environmental or lifestyle factors that can cause poor posture include obesity and how one walks. An exaggerated gait or a misaligned spine due to carrying large loads (backpacks and briefcases) may also cause poor posture.

Finally shoes. Yes, shoes can cause poor posture particularly those that cause the spine to fall out of alignment. The ever popular stiletto is one type of shoe most to blame for back pain because it shifts the pelvic region and forces the spine into an unnatural alignment known as poor posture.

Perfecting Your Posture

Chances are good that you know you have poor posture but you have no idea how to go about fixing it, right?

The first thing you need to recognize is that poor posture not only looks bad, it feels bad too. When you have poor posture you will suffer neck or back pain, or both, limited mobility and worst of all; worsening posture over time. The longer you let yourself get away with a slumped over spine and hunched shoulders the worse your posture will become, which will lead to chronic long-term back pain and everything that goes along with diagnosing and treating that kind of pain.

So what can you do to improve your posture? One of the best things you can do to improve your posture is exercise. Activities such as running or lifting weights require good posture to do them correctly and without injury. Combine those with core strengthening exercises to help stabilize the pelvis and spine and you'll find a combination of exercises to improve your posture. If traditional exercises "aren't your thing" then consider yoga or Pilates to strengthen your abdominal and lower back muscles.

Pay attention to the way in which your spine is curved when you sit or stand for a significant length of time. Make sure your spine is following its natural curve and that your chair conforms to your body's needs. Your feet should be able to rest flat on the ground, your knees ought to be even with your hips and your butt should fit to the back of the chair. Even when using ergonomic office equipment you need to make sure it is adjusting to you, not the other way around.

If you still have trouble improving your posture you may want to consider a lower back pillow to help with lumbar support. In fact, a sleep pillow will help you maintain proper sleep posture, which can reduce your risk of back pain.

If all else fails...there's always finishing school!

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