Poor Posture Can Be a Pain in the Neck and the checklist for improve posture

Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit, and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on support­ing muscles and ligaments during the normal course of move­ment. This is a simple but very important way to keep the many- crucial structures in your back and spine healthy.

Your backbone, or spine, runs from the base of your skull to your tailbone and is composed of thirty-three vertically stacked bones (vertebrae) that are cushioned by disks. Add spinal fluid, and you would think you have ample protection for your spinal cord and nerves. However, it is the way you carry yourself—your posture—that most significantly protects your spine from injury.

Your spinal column is designed to curve naturally, both forward and backward. Your spine has two natural curves, which work like shock absorbers to help your body maintain balance and to move your spinal column through its full range of motion. Your lower back (lumbar curve) bears most of your weight, so proper alignment of this section can prevent injury to your vertebrae, disks, and other portions of your spine.
Checklist for improve posture:
If your head and neck project forward, your back automatically goes out of alignment. Your goal is to position your head over your neck so that you can look directly ahead without feeling tension in your neck. Another great side benefit of keeping your head up and your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned is that you appear more confident, which provides a boost to your ego.

For example, the psychiatric nurse cared for a patient who continuously pressed his shoulders down with his hands—so that he wouldn't float away. While this man was clearly suffering from something other than gravity depravity, the image left me with a last­ing impression: pressing your shoulders down provides a stabilizing anchor for your entire body. Tension in the muscles that lift your shoulders and sup­port your back is the primary cause of most shoulder pain. I've noticed that the shoulders lift at the first sign of fatigue during exercise. To relax your neck and shoulders anytime, do the following: Stretch your head and ear toward your shoulder to alle­viate stiffness in your neck, and rotate or shrug your shoulders to ease tightness.

Minor adjustments in the alignment of your neck, shoul­ders, and back make a dynamic difference in the health of your back as well as your appearance. You can also mini­mize a less-than-flattering silhouette by increasing muscle tone. With appropriate posture when standing, it should be possible to draw a straight line from your earlobe, through your shoulder, hip, and knee, and into the middle of your ankle. Did you ever try to walk like a model by balancing a book on your bead? Today s supermodels that strut the cat­walk with shoulders thrown back and hips forward—often done while teetering on super high heels—would be hard- pressed to accomplish the book-balancing feat.

Standing without slouching, rounding your shoulders, or exaggerating the natural curves of the spine instantly gives you a more youthful and energetic appearance. Furthermore, you can do your own breast lift by lifting your chest while standing tall. Someone advised that the most flattering position for females when sleeping and lying down is with one or both arms overhead. She also suggested that if you want to have an honest look at your naked self, stand before the mirror wearing only boots. By the way, the best way to sleep is on your side with your knees bent, a pillow to support your neck, and a firm mattress.

When you're standing straight, make sure your abs and glutes are gently contracted. My ballet studies taught me that standing straight does not mean holding your spine rigid like a toy soldier. There is always a slight curvature to the spine, maintaining the pelvis in a neutral position, not tilted for­ward or backward. "Neutral spine" is the natural position of the spine when all body parts are in correct alignment.

The most common muscle imbalance leading to back pain is due to weak abdominal muscles and an excess of belly fat that causes the abdomen to protrude. Severe back pain is the direct result, as the abdomen is straining rather than supporting the back. Exercise can help reduce and even eliminate muscle imbalances. You can exercise weaker muscles to catch them up to stronger ones and work to correct and maintain overall stability. After the initial correction of bad posture habits, these movements tend to become automatic and require very little effort to maintain.

Alleviate tension in your back by relax­ing your knees. Unlocking your knees lets you more easily accommodate the natural S curves in your back. Next time you are standing in line at the grocery store and you feel lightness in your lower back, try flexing (bending) your knees while simultaneously tightening the muscles of your abdo­men and gluteus to bring your pelvis into a more neutral position. Be careful not to exaggerate this position by tilting your hips.

Good foot posture helps to put your entire body into balance. Place your feet slightly apart, with one foot positioned slightly in front of the oilier and knees bent just a little bit. Lift the arches of your feet slightly, so that your body weight is supported by out­side edges of your soles. And when you stand or walk, your toes should point almost straight ahead.

According to the American Orthopedic Foot and Ankle Society, "We're all susceptible to foot and ankle injuries, but we can reduce our risk by wearing properly fitting shoes that conform to the natural shape of our feet." It is truly basic, common sense. Orthotics, custom-made inserts for your shoes, can be worn with well-fitting footwear to address certain issues of your feet and lower body. Custom orthotics arc prescribed by a physician and are usually one aspect of a therapy program. By the way, pedicures don't qualify as a therapy, but they sure do look good.

The Right Way to Sit:
•Sit in chairs with straight backs or lumbar (lower-back) support.
•Maintain your cars, shoulders, and hips in a straight line, with your head up and your stomach pulled in.
•Sit back in your chair.
•When sitting at a desk, think in terms of right angles (90 degrees, or the shape of an L). Your knees should be at 90 degree angles when the soles of the feet are touching floor. Your back and thighs should form 90 degree angles when your body is silting properly in a chair, with your legs uncrossed. Your wrists should be straight, with your elbows at 90 degree angles when your hands are on the desk or keyboard.
•Turn by moving your whole body rather than by twisting at your waist
•Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than thirty minutes.
•Move to the front of the seat of your chair and stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist.

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