At our busy chiropractic clinic in Stoke on Trent, our chiropractors often encounter individuals seeking relief from various musculoskeletal issues, and a common theme that arises is the impact of poor posture on overall health.
Posture is not just about standing up straight; it’s a crucial component of well-being that affects everything from joint health to organ function.
In this blog post, our Stoke chiropractor explores the importance of good posture, the consequences of poor posture on health, and practical tips, including exercises, to help you maintain and improve your posture.
The Importance of Good Posture
Good posture is more than a matter of aesthetics; it forms the foundation of a healthy musculoskeletal system. Proper alignment of the spine and joints supports optimal function and reduces the risk of developing chronic issues. When your body is in alignment, it can distribute weight evenly, minimising stress on ligaments and joints.
Impact of Poor Posture on Health
Poor posture can contribute to many issues that can impact your health including:
Poor posture places undue stress on the spine and supporting structures, leading to conditions such as chronic back pain, neck pain, and headaches. Over time, these issues can become debilitating and affect daily life.
Digestive and Respiratory Complications
Slouching or hunching over can compress the organs in the abdominal cavity, potentially affecting digestion. Additionally, improper posture can limit lung capacity, hindering efficient breathing and oxygen intake.
Mood and Energy Levels
Posture can influence hormone levels and mood. A slouched posture may lead to increased cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and reduced levels of serotonin and testosterone, impacting energy levels and overall well-being.
Misalignment of the spine accelerates wear and tear on the joints, contributing to conditions such as osteoarthritis. Maintaining good posture is crucial for preventing premature joint degeneration.
Maintaining Good Posture
There are many ways to improve your posture including:
Cultivate awareness of your posture throughout the day. Take breaks to stretch and adjust your position, especially if you have a sedentary job.
Whether you’re working at a desk or performing manual labour, ensure that your workspace is ergonomically designed. Adjust your chair, monitor, and keyboard to promote a neutral spine position.
Incorporate exercises that strengthen core muscles, including the abdomen, back, and pelvic floor. These muscles play a pivotal role in supporting good posture. Yoga and Pilates are excellent choices.
Exercises to Improve Posture
The following exercises and stretches can help with improving posture. However, before undertaking these exercises, check with your GP, chiropractor or other healthcare practitioner to make sure the exercises are appropriate for your specific needs.
Strengthen your core with planks. Start with short durations and gradually increase as your strength improves.
How to Do a Plank
#1 Starting Position
- Begin by positioning yourself face down on the floor. Place your hands directly beneath your shoulders, keeping your fingers spread for stability.
- Extend your legs straight behind you, toes resting on the floor.
- Ensure your body forms a straight line from your head to your heels. Your neck should be in a neutral position, with your gaze directed towards the floor to maintain proper spinal alignment.
#3 Engage Core Muscles
- Tighten your abdominal muscles and squeeze your glutes. Imagine pulling your belly button towards your spine to engage the deep core muscles.
- This engagement is crucial for stabilising the spine and preventing the lower back from sagging.
#4 Maintain a Neutral Spine
- Avoid arching your back or letting your hips sag towards the floor. Focus on keeping your spine in a neutral position throughout the exercise.
- Imagine your body as a plank of wood, straight and rigid.
#5 Shoulder Position
- Your shoulders should be directly above your wrists, and your elbows should be slightly bent. This position helps distribute the load evenly across your upper body.
#6 Hold and Breathe
- Once you are in the correct position, hold the plank for as long as you can maintain proper form. Beginners may start with 10-20 seconds and gradually increase the duration over time.
- Remember to breathe steadily throughout the exercise. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth.
- If you find a full plank too challenging initially, you can modify by performing a forearm plank. Instead of supporting your body on your hands, lower yourself onto your forearms while maintaining the same straight body alignment.
- As you build strength, you can progress the plank by lifting one leg or arm off the ground, introducing instability and increasing the challenge for your core muscles.
#9 Consistency is Key
- Aim for at least 2-3 sets of planks in your workout routine, gradually increasing the duration as your strength improves.
- Quality is more important than quantity. Focus on maintaining proper form rather than pushing yourself to exhaustion.
- Listen to your body. If you experience any pain, especially in your lower back, modify the exercise or consult with a healthcare provider.
Lie on your back with knees bent, lift your hips towards the ceiling, engaging your glutes and core. This exercise targets the lower back and pelvic muscles.
How to Do a Bridge Pose
#1 Starting Position
- Begin by lying on your back on a comfortable mat. Bend your knees and place your feet hip-width apart, flat on the floor.
- Keep your arms alongside your body with palms facing down. Your fingertips should lightly touch your heels.
#2 Feet Placement
- Ensure that your feet are parallel to each other and pointing straight ahead. Your knees should be aligned with your ankles.
#3 Pelvic Tilt
- Inhale and press your feet into the mat as you lift your hips towards the ceiling.
- As you lift your hips, engage your abdominal muscles and tilt your pelvis upward. This action helps protect your lower back and activates your core.
#4 Lift Hips
- Continue lifting your hips until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Your body should form a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.
- Avoid overextending your back. Focus on lifting your hips by engaging your glutes and hamstrings.
#5 Shoulder Position
- Roll your shoulders back and tuck your shoulder blades underneath you. This action helps open up the chest and supports the lift of the hips.
#6 Clasp Hands
- If comfortable, you can clasp your hands underneath your body. Roll your shoulders even further underneath to create a stable base.
#7 Hold and Breathe
- Once you’ve lifted into the bridge position, hold the pose for 20-30 seconds, breathing deeply and steadily.
- Focus on maintaining the alignment of your knees, hips, and shoulders.
- Exhale as you gently lower your spine back down to the mat, one vertebra at a time.
- Rest for a moment before repeating the bridge pose for additional sets.
- Keep your neck relaxed and avoid straining it. Your gaze can be directed towards your chest or slightly upward.
- If clasping your hands underneath is challenging, you can keep your arms alongside your body with palms facing down.
- For a more advanced variation, lift one leg straight towards the ceiling while maintaining the bridge position, and then switch legs.
A yoga classic, this stretch promotes flexibility in the spine. Move between arching and rounding your back in a controlled manner.
How to Do a Cat-Cow Stretch
#1 Starting Position
- Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your wrists should be directly under your shoulders, and your knees should be under your hips.
- Ensure that your fingers are spread wide, providing a stable foundation.
#2 Cow Pose (Inhale)
- Inhale deeply as you arch your back, dropping your belly towards the mat.
- Lift your tailbone towards the ceiling, and tilt your pelvis up. Allow your gaze to lift, bringing your chest forward and opening up the front of your body.
- This position resembles a cow’s back as it arches.
- As you exhale, smoothly transition into the next phase of the stretch.
#4 Cat Pose (Exhale)
- Exhale as you round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest. Imagine bringing your belly button towards your spine.
- Draw your shoulder blades apart and push through your hands to create space between your shoulder blades.
- This position resembles a cat stretching its back.
#5 Flowing Movement
- Continue to flow between the cat and cow poses, syncing your movements with your breath.
- Inhale as you move into the cow pose, and exhale as you transition into the cat pose.
- Allow the movement to be fluid and controlled, focusing on the articulation of each vertebra in your spine.
- Repeat the cat-cow stretch for 1-2 minutes, gradually increasing the duration as your spine begins to warm up.
- Pay attention to how your body feels, and adapt the movement to suit your comfort level.
- Engage your core muscles throughout the movement to support your spine and enhance the stretch.
- Explore variations by incorporating gentle side-to-side movements or circling your hips to further mobilize the spine.
- Coordinate your breath with each movement, using inhales to expand and open, and exhales to contract and round.
Stand with your back against a wall and raise your arms overhead, forming a “Y” shape. Slide your arms down the wall, keeping them in contact, then back up. This exercise improves shoulder mobility and reinforces proper posture.
Take proactive steps toward improving and preserving your posture
By incorporating awareness, ergonomic adjustments, and targeted exercises into your daily routine, you can take proactive steps toward improving and preserving your posture. Remember, a commitment to good posture is an investment in your long-term health and vitality.
If you’re experiencing persistent issues, seeking chiropractic care can provide personalised guidance and adjustments to address your specific needs. Our Stoke chiropractors at City Chiropractic Clinic are here to help you.
Feedback from just a few of our patients who have benefited from an improved posture with the help of our chiropractors …
“What can i say about this place apart from both Dr. Mohamad Kammouh and front of house team are all amazing hence the 5 star rating. … The issue i had was a very painful shoulder and after a consultation and action plan i started treatment , although a bit sceptical at first this soon disappeared and was replaced with a better way of life pain free and better posture making me feel better about my self. They not only treat you for your main issue but also give advice on diet, health improvements and just general good feeling.” Philip R (Google 5-Star Review)
“I suffered with lower back pain for 6 months before visiting City Chiropractic Clinic. My pain was eased within the first few visits and reduced significantly, along with my posture improvement, over the 10 months of treatment. I would definitely recommend City Chiropractic Clinic to anyone that has back problems!” Paul T (Google 5-Star Review)