Don’t slouch! Sit up straight! There are plenty of very simple ways you can improve your posture and improve back health.
When I was twelve I was diagnosed with scoliosis. I saw a chiropractor several times a week for years. And as I was apt to do in that stage of life, I ignored all his counsel about how to improve my posture. I carried a heavy bag, crossed my legs, slouched, you name it.
Now, some almost thirty years later, I regret that blase, laissez-faire attitude about my body, and particularly my back. Through recent visits to a chiropractor, I’ve been reminded of those simple things that I could have done long ago to prevent back pain and poor posture.
I’m doing them now. Better late than never, you know. When a doctor tells you you have the beginnings of a hunchback and you’re only 41, you listen. Yes, ma’am, you do.
Good posture not only helps you avoid back pain, but it also gives you confidence and helps you look your best.
While I’m not a doctor of any kind, I’ve done some research. I’ve had more than one chiropractor lecture me on my bad habits.
Take my words with a grain of salt, but as far as I can see these are five pretty simple things that you can do to improve your posture:
1. Stop crossing your legs.
We do this out of habit or because we think it’s attractive, or whatever. But, the truth is that crossing your legs can contribute to lower back pain. It’s also been credited with poor circulation and spider veins.
To have good posture and a healthy back, it’s best for your body to be “balanced” or neutral. Don’t do something that will throw you off kilter. Crossing one leg over the other at the knee pulls the hip and lower back out of sync with the other side of the body.
2. Use a crossbody bag.
Likewise, if you wear a bag or purse on one shoulder, you’re putting extra weight on that side and throwing your body out of balance. A crossbody bag or a backpack distribute the weight more evenly, thus preventing the strain.
Furthermore, anytime that you’re carrying things, try to distribute the weight evenly so that one side of your body is not strained.
3. Avoid sleeping on your tummy.
If you’ve got back pain, sleeping on your stomach is a no-no. If you want to avoid back pain in the future, start sleeping on your side or back. Sleeping on your tummy requires your neck to turn to the side and creates extra pressure on muscles and joints.
I know, hard habit to break. Chances are you didn’t tummy sleep while pregnant, so you can probably adjust with time. Our chiropractor suggested safety pinning a sock to your shirt at night. Put a tennis ball in the sock. You probably won’t want to sleep on the sock, so your body will require you to turn.
4. Sit up straight — in a good chair.
You’re probably slouching right now as you read this. Sit up straight! It may take some getting used to, but the more you use those muscles, the stronger they will become.
If you sit at a computer or desk for any length of time, it’s important to sit in a comfortable, ergonomic chair. You can also sit on an exercise ball, provided that your feet can lie flat. That’s what I currently do. The ball requires you to use extra balance and forces you to sit up straight.
5. Get fitted properly for a bra.
My chiro didn’t say this. I haven’t seen it documented. This is just my opinion. But, I’ve been professionally fitted for a bra twice. Both times, I found such an amazing difference in my posture and comfort afterwards.
It makes sense, you’re carrying weight. It needs to be comfortable and supported properly. I read one statistic that said 85% of women wear the wrong size bra. If that’s the case, then a lot of us are carrying that weight around poorly.
A bra fitting is free. I’ve been to Macy’s as well as Dillard’s. Prior to my first fitting, I was told to look for a gramma-type woman. The young whipper snappers at Victoria’s Secret don’t have the experience. I found this to be true. I went into VS once and walked right back out and headed down to Dillards.
I’ve also found that the more expensive bras, fitted properly, are significantly better and longer-lasting than the cheapos you might buy at Target.
You only have one body; take care of it. These are things that we as moms can do to improve our own health, but we can also model good habits for our children so that they can avoid back pain and poor posture as they age.