Before we begin, please ensure you’re not slouching. Sit up straight.
Ever wondered why your dreaded deadly back pain attacks you just when it is the last thing you need? Why do fitness trainers put so much emphasis on exercise form? Do you want to run away from your otherwise favorable job only because of the taxing body pain that comes with it? Does the back of your neck ache when you wake up in the morning?
Homo sapiens were created with utmost precision in all aspects and alignment was one of them. However, as you must be well aware by now, our species loves to complicate simple things. We have managed to ruin our bodies by processing food up to the point that sometimes we are eating sheer plastic and lead! Similarly, we have advanced our technologies to ease our lives to the point that we had to gamble away our natural alignment and eventually it has only led us to ease into sickness. Apart from appearing more confident, here are a few more benefits of having a good posture:
- Hello energy: When your ribcage is in the correct position, you can take in more air. The more oxygen you breathe in, the more energy you have.
- Lean in: Defined back and glute muscles are a result of exercising in the correct position. Working out with the wrong form can also lead to injuries.
- Goodbye fatigue and pain: Correct alignment ensures that less stress is placed on not just your back and neck but also your knees, hips and ankles; when the pelvis is in the incorrect position, certain muscles don’t work well, placing undue stress on the lower limb joints.
From Hunters and Gatherers to Typists and Texters
A study was conducted amongst Indian IT professionals and over 50 percent of them were recorded to have lower back pain. Our lifestyles have evolved tremendously over time – from hunting and gathering for food to earning a living from sitting in front of screens. We were never meant to sit for hours on end in an extreme hip flexion position with shoulders rounded and head leaning forward. As a result, the hip flexors and hamstrings can become chronically tight. This uncalled for tightness contributes to postural ailments. Lack of movement for a long period at a time also contributes to drained energy and circulation from our bodies. Muscles become atrophied to suit your position, resulting in a vicious cycle of fatigue and sloth.
How to Sit?
- Don’t sit for prolonged periods of time. At regular intervals, stand up, take a break, and walk around your desk, lift your arms and stretch.
- Ensure that your chair is in the correct position; are you able to sit up straight without rounding your lower back into the chair? If not, you may use a small lower back support to sit in this position. It is imperative that your lower back has a small arch in it while sitting. You should also be able to feel the bones of your glutes under you – the sitz bones. If you can’t feel the sitz bones, your pelvis in not in the correct position.
- Don’t sit like a lady! Crossing one leg over the other may make you look poised and elegant in the moment but it will take a toll on your hip and spine alignment in the long run causing muscular imbalances and pain.
- You must be able to sit up straight, with a rigid upper back, and eyes looking forward. Desk jobs usually cause issues related to kyphosis (or hunchback posture).
Here are few tips that can be implemented at work and home to assist in combating common postural ailments:
- Regular practice of yoga and pilates will strengthen back muscles and improve your posture.
- Raise your laptop at eye level if possible, this will automatically prevent slouching.
- Try to be mindful of your posture at all times – while sleeping and standing too!
- Avoid slumping over your smartphone; instead bring it up to your eye level. Others might think you’re taking selfies all the time, but your muscles will be immensely grateful.
Doing these simple exercises everyday will help:
- Neck rotation – Start by standing or sitting with a straight back posture, then tilt your head forward. Try to touch your chin to your chest. Rotate your clockwise and tilt your head as far as you can to the right. Keep rotating your head to the back, looking as far behind you as you can. Finish by tilting your head to the left with as much range of motion as possible. Repeat these steps multiple times. Then rotate counter-clockwise.
- Shoulder rolls – Sit or stand tall, lift your shoulders up to your ears and then roll them back. Imagine there is a pencil between your two scapula (shoulder blades), and gently squeeze the imaginary pencil. Repeat at least 5-10 times.
- Towel squeeze – Stand up and hold a towel or resistance band behind your back, with your hands as close to each other as possible. Keep your arms as straight as possible and palms facing upwards. Keeping your shoulders pulled back, and elbows straight, pull the towel/band apart for 2 seconds and hold, then release. Repeat this 10-12 times.
- Static wall stretch – Lie on the floor and place your legs up on a wall. To perform this stretch, lie on the floor with a wall in front of you. Bring your legs up the wall and scoot your butt as close to the wall as possible. You should look like you’re sitting on the wall. Rest your arms out to your side. Hold this position for a few minutes.
- Plank – Place the forearms or palms on the ground with the elbows aligned below the shoulders (ensure that your shoulders are not too rounded), and arms parallel to the body at about shoulder-width distance. Hold for as long as possible.
Restore your posture and rejuvenate your life – embrace more confidence, less pain, more wellness and less stress.
Hameed, P Shahul. Prevalance Of Work Related Low Back Pain Among The Information Technology Professionals In India – A Cross Sectional Study (2013): n. pag. INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF SCIENTIFIC & TECHNOLOGY RESEARCH. India, 2 July 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2016.
Karachiwala, Yasmin, and Zeena Dhalla. Sculpt and Shape: The Pilates Way. Gurgaon, Haryana: Random House India, 2015. Print.
Author : Nida Aziz