4 min read. Written by Shirouz Elango
It’s timeless advice that we’ve all heard before: sit up straight! But is that advice always accurate? Posture is an important yet overlooked aspect of our health. It isn’t simply about presentation—yes, slouching may be unsightly, but our posture can be a representation of our digestive, nervous and even respiratory functions.
Thankfully, differences in our posture are normal, and making small changes can help with our overall well-being. Here are some tips for you to improve your posture for a better body and mind.
Before continuing into the article, this is a reminder for you to get into a comfortable posture!
Why You Should Improve Your Posture
Research has found links between poor posture and a variety of health conditions, as well as an increased risk of injury while exercising with poor form.
At the same time, there is no ‘perfect’ posture and all individuals have varied spinal curvatures. This means that comfortable sitting and standing positions may be different for everyone. However, by improving the way we sit and move, we can reduce the stresses and strains on our muscles in the neck and back. In turn, this also means that there is less pressure on other joints and organs, resulting in better function of our balance and circulation. Improving our posture can also result in a rejuvenation in your energy and mood levels—it’s all connected!
Improve Your Posture: Understanding The Postures That Can Lead To Back Pain
Common causes: Obesity, pregnancy, spinal issues
Known as hyperlordosis, this refers to an excessive arch in the lower back. Often mistaken as the ‘ideal’ posture, the exaggerated arch puts strain on the joints & muscles, which in turn can impact our gait and balance, and can sometimes lead to lower back pain.
Common causes: habitual slouching, prolonged sitting without moving around
One of the most common posture issues seen today, a flat back posture is identified by a lack of natural curves in the spine, with a hunched upper and lower back. As a result of the change in the musculoskeletal form, it may cause your head to stoop forward.
With such a posture, the spine’s ability to stabilise our body is reduced, in turn causing the muscles to work harder to ensure even distribution of mechanical stress.
Common causes: weaker lower abdominal muscles, glutes and quads
This form is characterized by exaggerated curves in the spine due to hips that are pushed forward, causing the upper body to ‘sway back’ in order to compensate for the shift. Those who adopt this posture may appear as if they are leaning back when they are standing.
A result of muscle weakness and tightness, this posture may lead to excessive compression and even degeneration in the joints, causing pain and discomfort.
How Do I Know If I Need to Improve My Posture?
Here’s the thing—there’s no ONE good posture form. In fact, research has found that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to your form—different people may thrive better on different postures. It isn’t about finding one right form for your back, but for you to be able to vary and shift easily and ease tension off your spine.
With that being said, there are certain postures that feel more comfortable for most people. The key in improving your posture is to listen to your body and pay attention to the way it feels. Good postures would feel effortless and graceful. Poor form takes a toll by leaving you with physical discomfort, muscle tension and fatigue—your body’s signal for you to change into another position!
What Can I Do To Improve My Posture?
This one’s a given. Being too sedentary is one of the leading causes of poor posture and back pain, and may cause it to worsen. Lying down or sitting down too much can cause back pain, especially if your bed or chair is too soft and does not provide adequate support for your back. An easy fix is to change positions and stand up every 30-45 minutes, allowing your body to do its job—move!
It’s also a good idea for you to engage in exercises that strengthen your core and focus on muscle and body awareness. However, everybody’s back pain is unique. Some people respond well to certain exercises while some need to avoid those exercises temporarily. A physiotherapist can advise you on what you can do to improve your condition.
Adjust Your Environment
Help yourself improve your posture by fixing your environment to your desired posture. For example, if you’re sitting down—whether for a meal or to work—try to ensure that your work surface is at a comfortable height for you to avoid slouching over. Wearing comfortable shoes can also go a long way in helping to correct your gait, and in turn, your posture. It could also be helpful to make use of tools such as posture props or support pillows to remind yourself to stay on form.
Consider Engaging A Physiotherapist
For those suffering from back pain and want to overcome this with an active approach, physiotherapy may be the best solution not only to improve your posture but to restore balance in your body as well. A physiotherapist can help refine the communication between the brain with your nerves and muscles using specialised and controlled exercises. Well-versed in a variety of hands-on treatments and tailored exercises for the tensed back or hip flexor muscles, a physiotherapist may also prove helpful in preventing the issue from happening again by getting to the root cause of your condition and providing a personalised solution for you.
Are you experiencing issues with your form, or looking to improve your posture? Reach out to us to find out how our team of physiotherapists can help.
Last Reviewed by Jaden Lim on 28/02/2022