In the previous post, found at Posture Correction 2: Restore Strength To Weak Muscles, we looked at ways to strengthen weak muscles involved in two prevalent forms of postural distortion: forward head posture and anterior pelvic tilt. In this final post in the posture series, we’ll consider behavioral changes you can make to reinforce healthier muscle memory patterns, facilitating proper posture.
Forward Head Posture
1. Change how you hold things.
Whether it’s a book you’re reading or a mobile device you use frequently, the way you hold these objects determines your posture. Most people hold books and devices closer to waist or hip level than to eye level; this encourages your head to drop down and your shoulders to slump over. A good rule of thumb is to make sure your shoulders are pulled back and kept low; this will encourage your head to stay aligned (it’s harder to crane your neck forward when your shoulders are aligned).
When you pull your shoulders back with an iPhone or other device in your hands, you’ll need to lift the device up closer to eye level in order to fully see it. For books, this can be a bit more difficult, particularly for hefty books. In that case, it’s best to get a book stand that you can prop the book up on while sitting or standing with an elongated spine. Focus on keeping your shoulders pressed against the back of a chair, or, every few paragraphs, make a conscious effort to check your posture.
2. Arrange objects at your work station so that they’re easily reached.
This way, your arms won’t constantly be positioned in front of your body, which encourages the shoulders to come forward.
3. Lay off the bench presses.
Any heavy lifting workout that isolates the chest muscles puts you in danger of redeveloping forward head posture. Of course, it is possible to balance these exercises with upper back workouts like the inverted row. However, if you’re just working your way out of forward head posture, it’s best to avoid these dangers for a while until your body has re-balanced.
Anterior Pelvic Tilt
1. Sit less.
Sitting less is an important component of any back pain treatment plan, as well as the prevention of many other health conditions. Sitting encourages your hip flexors to tighten; it also leaves the muscles in your lower back tight from lack of fresh blood flow. Make yourself a standing desk to do work at – essentially, any surface that allows you to use a computer or perform other work on while keeping your elbows bent around 90 degrees.
When you sit, try “active sitting.” This type of sitting employs a destabilizing device, like a cushion or an exercise ball, that requires you to maintain balance by engaging your core muscle group. By strengthening neglected muscles throughout the core, the hip flexors will be allowed to relax more. Read more about “active sitting”, click here.
2. Lay off the high heels, ladies.
You may like how they make your legs and butt look, but they’ll make your back and hips feel bad, as well as your ankles, knees and feet. These shoes lock you into anterior pelvic tilt for as long as you’re wearing them and, if you wear them frequently, the distortion won’t just disappear when you take the shoes off.
Even if you stretch, perform self-myofascial release and exercise key muscles, you’re not likely to fix your posture if you don’t change behaviors that encourage postural distortions. Adopt a well-rounded approach to correcting back pain posture.
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