Do you suffer from joint pain?
Are you a “sloucher”?
Are you worried that your poor posture is contributing to your sore joints?
The way you carry your body when walking, sitting, standing, and lying down – your posture – is critical to avoiding joint pain. But what is “good posture”?
A good posture means placing minimal strain on ligaments, muscles, and joints when performing any activity, even lying down.
Posture is one of the most important ways to fix problems that haven’t even started yet.
Developing ease of movement and pliability in the tissues such that you easily align into a good posture is beneficial for joint pain in the following ways:
- It prevents strain on your spinal ligaments
- It diminishes wear and tear issues with joints like the kneecap and prevents degenerative conditions like osteoarthritis.
- It reduces muscular aches and pains and prevents lower back pain
- It helps to keep your spine in proper alignment
- It prevents misalignment of your joints and bones so you can avoid muscular and ligament issues.
- It allows you to use muscles in their “correct” position, which is more energy-efficient and can prevent fatigue.
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How To Improve Your Posture
There is a lot of advice out there about how to improve posture. Some of it is helpful. Some of it, not so much. The amount of information can just plain be overwhelming, making it difficult to know what is right for you.
We are here to help you sort through all of that.
Let’s Get Started
One of the most frequent pieces of advice out there is to simply imagine a string pulling you upwards from the top of your head.
Next, visualize your head on top of your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips – with three natural curves in your spine. The idea is that you can avoid lots of posture-related issues this way. More activity specific instruction to improve your posture is as follows:
When You’re In A Seated Position
- Your shoulders should be pushed back towards each other and your spine straight, with your buttocks touching the back of the chair.
- You should maintain a typical spinal curve (an S-shaped curve) in a seated position by using an ergonomic chair that fits the contours of your back. If you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, it’s worth investing in a good-quality chair to prevent back, neck, and shoulder problems later.
- Your weight distribution should be even on the hips on both sides of your body. Don’t sit or lean over to one side.
- Your knees should be at the same height or slightly higher than the hips and at a right angle. Try not to cross your legs.
- Both of your feet should always rest flat on the floor.
- Try not to remain sedentary (inactive) for extended periods. Instead, get up and take a walk every 15 – 20 minutes, even if it’s just a lap around the office. But even better, for general health, get outside and get some fresh air and sunlight too.
- At work, your workstation should be close enough to your chair so that your elbows can rest on the desk or chair in a relaxed position. If you use a mouse, your arm should rest comfortably on the desk when the mouse is in use. Try to make sure that your elbow isn’t hanging off the desk and causing that side of your body to “slouch.”
- Always position your laptop/computer and chair straight forwards instead of at an angle. *If the sun is in your eyes, close the blind, don’t move your position to make it easier to see your screen.
When You’re Driving
- Use back support like a lumbar roll fixed onto the driving seat. Even better would be a 4″ inflatable ball. It will support the lower back and make sure your spine’s alignment is correct. Your knees must be higher than your hips or at the same level.
- Adjust your seat to the steering wheel to make sure your back is in the correct position. In addition, your seat must be convenient for your knees to bend easily and your feet to touch the pedals comfortably.
When Lifting Weights
- When you need to lift something heavy, try not to struggle with something cumbersome on your own. Lifting heavy items awkwardly can easily lead to back injuries. Ask someone to help instead.
- Make sure you firmly place your foot on a steady surface before lifting anything heavy.
- If you ever need to bend forward to lift something lower than your waist, maintain a straight spine and bend at the hips and knees. Never bend in a forward position with straight knees.
- Place your feet wide and near the object, you’re going to lift with both feet placed firmly on the floor. First, remember to tighten your stomach muscles when lifting heavy objects. Then, when you lift the object, gradually and smoothly straighten the knees – without any jerking movements.
- Do not twist in an awkward position when lifting heavy objects. Always move the feet forward – not backward or sideways. If you need to change direction, stop and reposition yourself. It’s not worth enduring an injury or fall.
- If an object is in the middle of a desk or table, move it to the edge first so that picking it up is more accessible and closer to your body. Make sure you bend your knees to get closer to the item.
- When you lower the object, get your feet into a comfortable and firm position first, bend the knees and hips, and move forward to place it down.
Lying Down And Sleeping
Pillows, mattresses, and sleeping positions are among the most commonly blamed causes of neck and shoulder problems – and joint pain in general. So it pays to take some extra time to check that your sleeping position isn’t problematic. Common advice is as follows:
- Irrespective of your sleeping position, your pillow must lie beneath your head and not your shoulders. So don’t be tempted to lie your shoulder on the pillow.
- Your pillow should be of adequate thickness for your head to rest in natural alignment with your spine. Get your partner, friend, or family member to check your alignment and whether the pillow height is suitable.
- Choose a sleeping position that helps retain the natural curvature of your spine. For example, you can place a lumbar roll below the lower back and a pillow between your legs when you’re lying on your back. If you prefer to lie on your side, keep your knees in a slightly bent position.
- Never draw the knees up to the chest in a sideways position. Preferably, do not sleep flat on your stomach because this sleeping position can sometimes strain the back and neck muscles.
- If you buy from a store, take advantage of the opportunity to try out different mattresses – or choose an online supplier that offers a “free trial .”It’s a considerable expense. Make sure it’s right before you commit. Don’t settle until you find one suitable for your needs and offers the right level of comfort and support.
- If you’re not able to replace your mattress right now. Don’t worry. You can use lumbar support to increase comfort and support. If you prefer lying on your back, make sure the mattress and lumbar support meet your spine’s natural curvature.
- When you get up from a lying position, switch to one side and pull your knees up while moving your legs over towards the side of the bed. Then, prop yourself up in the bed using your hands. Do not bend forward from the waist when getting up.
What Does All Of This Mean For You?
Now that you have read through all of that, what do you do with it? Implement all of the ideas at once? Try one thing at a time and hope it makes enough of a difference? Use trial and error?
We find, it is not so much what you do, as it is how you do it. In particular, the idea of “maintaining” a good posture is not the same as having space and ease in the tissues such that your body naturally aligns into a good posture. The first is frequently a lot of work for most people. It can be exhausting to pull that string up through the top of your body and get your head over your shoulders if there are restrictions in the ribs or diaphragm.
It can just about be impossible to sit in an ergonomic chair without joint or back pain, even when you are well supported in a good spinal curve, if there are tight myofascial tissues pulling through the pelvis and fronts of your legs.
Never draw your knees to your chest when you sleep? We have seen many clients who are pulled into that sort of position as they sleep because that is the position myofascial restrictions pull them into. Trying to not do what your body is trying to do only sets you up for a fight with yourself. Hint: Neither of you will win in this scenario. And you will likely experience a lot of restless and sleepless nights.
Better would be to address the restrictions and troubled tissues that are causing you to curl into a ball when you sleep. Or feel uncomfortable in your seat when you drive, even with lumbar support. Or feel stiff when lifting something, even when you bend your knees and hips.
In short, when sitting, standing, driving, or sleeping – it is important to notice what your body is doing when you start to feel joint pain. What posture are you in when that happens? What tightness or limitations do you notice as you shift into a different position? What is making it difficult to easily sit, stand, work, or drive with better posture?
When you find the restrictions and address them, posture will naturally improve.
It’s Time To Get In Touch
It’s okay to try and go it alone. Having a sense of what a more ideal posture is along with some tips on where you might make some adjustments might be all you need.
However, if you find it exhausting to try and maintain a good posture, we invite you to book a free consultation with one of our Myofascial Release Therapists.
We know it can be hard knowing where to start with posture and we want to help you.
There’s no time like the present to get in touch and start on the road to a happier and healthier future.