by Lauren Stone
“Strong, solid posture is the backbone of feeling good and staying active” (source = healthandage.com). It’s funny how often times little messages heard as a child stick with you into adulthood; placing emphasis on “good posture” is a message all too familiar for most of us growing up. Parents are usually sticklers for pointing out “slouchy shoulders” or “elbows on the dinner table.” This message repeats into your teenage years as you sit slumped halfway down your chair through Algebra class or lugging around heavy backpacks stuffed full of school books to and from school each day. But perhaps the importance of good posture resonates most as an adult in the workforce. Many of us it for endless hours a day rounded over our workstations, intently squinting into computer screen. These years of being less-than-mindful of sitting up straight can certainly take a toll on the back and spine.
Dr. John Triano, a contributing author for pineHealth.com comments, “the healthy body can only tolerate staying in one position for about 20 minutes. That is why sitting on an airplane, at a desk in an office chair, or at a movie theatre becomes uncomfortable after a short time. Standing in one place, such as standing on a concrete floor at an assembly line for extended periods of time tends to cause back pain. Holding the same position slowly diminishes elasticity in the soft tissues (muscles ligaments and tendons in the back). Then, stress builds up and causes back discomfort and/or leg discomfort.”
Unfortunately, it is far easier to succumb to bad posture than to actually be conscious of it. Poor habits plague us in our daily lives, from driving stiff-necked through traffic to carrying large purses and heavy gym bags. Even sleeping in un-natural positions, bad habits are hard to break.
So what exactly constitutes “bad posture?” There are many signs and warnings that warrant mentioning; pain that occurs from everyday, normal activity can start in the neck and work its way down the back to the lower extremities. Those that work in an office-type setting, sitting idle for multiple hours a day are at a higher risk for poor posture, so the use of ergonomic devices tends to become a daily necessity.
“The goal of an ergonomics program in industry is to adapt the workplace to a specific worker, dependent on the job description, required tasks and physical make up of the employee performing those tasks,” (Dr. John Triano). Many use an ergonomic seat cushion to align the back and spine and provide additional comfort. Contour Living has created a popular product called the Freedom Seat which is ergonomically designed to fit any chair from an ordinary desk chair to the car seat. What is unique about this particular product is the wedge shape of the cushion restores your lumbar curve, while comforting the spinal discs and providing relief to the coccyx as the cutout minimizes pressure build-up in the area of the tailbone. This positions your hips correctly, avoiding any pressure on the lower thighs while maintaining the shape to fit your body in any setting.
Kelly Andrews, author of Ten Tips for Improving Posture and ergonomics (SpineHealth.com) has provided these useful suggestions to minimize any discomfort and to retain proper posture. She suggests distributing the body weight evenly while sitting in a chair, aligning the shoulders and hips in a straight, upright position while leaning against the back and the armrests. She suggests being mindful of any ‘unevenness’ such as crossed legs and feet, leaning into one side more than the other and sitting forward towards the edge of the seat versus comfortably against the chair back. Andrews is advocates using ergonomically designed devices such as the Freedom Pillow to minimize back strain and enhance good posture. “It does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home and car, but the payoff will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk keyboard and computer screen are correctly positioned”. Adjusting the height of the chair as well as the height of the computer monitor from eye distance are also suggested techniques for a balanced back and neck.
Fortunately, with a bit of self-awareness, proper posture is attainable and those bad habits can be turned right around. You will live a happier, healthier and pain-free lifestyle.
Contour is the brand leader in ergonomic products designed specifically for comfort and support. Products include orthopedic pillows, ushions, chair pads, mattress pads and more. Visit Contour Living for more information on solutions to improve posture, sleep better, correct support problems and live more comfortably.