LighterLife health: How to improve your posture

October 7, 2013 - Health & Nutrition

91773187A staggering 9.6 million people in the UK suffer from some form of back problem every week. We take a closer look at posture, ways you can improve it and techniques to relieve back pain…

Posture is the way we hold our body against the force of gravity. Good posture is defined as when the least amount of strain and stress is placed on our muscles and ligaments, through an effective organisation of our limbs.

How excess weight can affect our posture?
The spine can move out of a natural alignment as it attempts to evenly distribute excess weight across the body. This leads to an unnatural curvature of the spine and places strain on the body’s back, hip, and trunk. In addition, some overweight people have a swinging side-to-side gait as their hips have rotated outwards to accommodate for the restriction of movement.

How can I improve my posture?
The Alexander Technique is a useful way to help improve your breathing and posture. Here are some tips:

Standing up… Make sure your weight feels evenly distributed around the front, back and sides of your feet. Be centred. Don’t tense your shoulders or look down, and don’t jut your neck forward as if standing to attention. Be natural.

Looking ahead, tilt your chin ever so slightly down. This will open up the back of your neck which typically tightens and shortens over the course of the day. Align your hips with your shoulders and keep your stomach in, without putting your body under too much tension.

At a desk or table… Your back and shoulders should be straight and aligned to the back of your chair, and your arms should be resting comfortably on your desk/table, not straining forwards as this will cause tension for your neck. Tilt your chair forwards so your knees are lower than your hips and think about investing in a wrist rest to give your arms support. Get up at least once an hour to move around.

When walking… Stand up straight and keep your tummy in. Keep your eyes forward and your chin parallel to the ground. Do not lean forward or back as this will put strain on your back, and tuck in your bottom slightly to prevent you from arching your back. Try to use the minimum physical effort to get you from A to B; a lot of people jut their neck out while walking as if they want to get there faster; your movement should come from your hips and your legs only.

If ordinary movements are causing you pain, think about visiting an osteopath. Through some general manipulation techniques and soft tissue work, you can improve your alignment. Don’t just put up with it because you are overweight – there are lots of people who are overweight with good posture.