Perfect Posture

Having and maintaining a good posture is a major step in preventing back pain. With us all leading such busy lifestyles often the basic warning signs of back problems can go unnoticed. Of course, no one is immune from back pain. By following a series of simple guidelines, which can be incorporated into everyday lives, you can help to reduce the risk of back pain. 

The ideal posture would allow for a plumb line to hang straight through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Try and stand relaxed, but gently contracting your abdominal muscles. When sitting the same is true, the gravity line should pass thorough ear, shoulder and hip.

Blackwater Chiropractic makes the following recommendations for maintaining a good posture:

Give your posture a sporting chance

Unaccustomed exercise can put you at risk of back pain. You might only play a relaxed low-risk sport once a week but you still need to prepare yourself sufficiently – mentally and physically. Warming up and warming down is essential to ensure that your joints and muscles don’t get a shock. Strong abdominal muscles can help to prevent a potential bad back.

Don’t just sit there

Lack of exercise is your worst enemy. Regular exercise is essential, as the fitter you are, the less likely you are to injure yourself. Simple activity such as stretching and shoulder shrugging all helps to keep your back in line. Do not sit for prolonged periods.

Don’t drive yourself around the bend

On the school run or picking up the monthly shop, the last thing on our minds is the state of our backs while in the driving seat. But there is almost twice as much pressure on your back when you are sitting incorrectly than there is if you stand up. So relax – a relaxed driving position reduces stress on the spine, allow your seat to take your weight, try and make sure you are sitting as far back in the car seat as possible so it can support you fully.

Sit up straight in front of the TV

When you are relaxing in front of the box, the tendency is to “slouch” when sitting. The ideal sitting position is to let the seat take your weight so if possible keep as much of your body in contact with the chair so that your whole body is supported.

Perfect Posture © British Chiropractic Association. All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without permission. 2009

Carry with care

Be aware of the potential dangers of putting more strain on one side of the body more than the other. Any bag that sheds equal weight on both shoulders is preferred, so if you can carry items in a rucksack – do it! Adjust the straps of a bag to keep it as close to the back as possible, which ensures weight is evenly distributed across the back.

Footloose and fancy free

Having good footwear is an essential part of having a good posture – a factor that is often overlooked. Soft-soled shoes, which are supportive and have a good grip, are recommended.

Perfect PC posture

Huge amounts of people spend hours in front of a PC each day – make sure you are sitting comfortably and have your spine supported. Don’t forget to move around, limit yourself to forty-minute sittings and take regular breaks. If possible have your arms supported.

And so to bed

Try and adopt a sleeping position which creates less physical stress on the back first thing in the morning. For example, lay on your side and not on your front with your neck twisted. When you wake up, wake your body up and try some gentle stretches like drawing your knees to your chest.

Overall, your back is most at risk when either embarking on an unaccustomed burst of activity, or during a mundane activity where you pay less attention to your posture. Regular exercise and awareness is key to maintaining a healthy back – just keep thinking of that plumb line!

Ivan Danne, B.Sc., D.C., M.C.A.I.

Doctor of Chiropractic

2 Responses to Perfect Posture

  • Great advice, Ivan. Ergonomics are still an afterthought, and there are so many preventable injuries. I’ve been a victim of various pulls and strains due to careless posture and inappropriate furniture while at work.

  • This is the biggest issue, especially considering that somewhere between 85-95% of ALL car seats are misused. There are many user-friendly features on seats that will enable you to use it correctly with less effort, but you have to look for them. Used seats Make sure the safety seat is less than 10 years old (preferably less than six) and has never been used in a crash, even a minor fender-bender. You can’t be sure about the history of a used safety seat unless you got it from a friend or relative. You will need the detailed instruction booklet which can be ordered from the manufacturer if it is missing, to check that the safety seat has all of its parts and to find out how to use it correctly. Check for possible damage, such as cracks in the plastic, dents, and missing parts. You can follow the USED SEAT CHECKLIST to determine whether your used seat is still safe. Backless shoulder belt adjusters The shoulder belt adjuster on backless models helps to pull the shoulder belt into the correct position; usually by means of a plastic clip and fabric cord. Some of these models are very easy to adjust, others can be time consuming and break easily. Be sure to choose a model that you will be able to adjust properly for a good fit on every ride. If the shoulder belt does not fit correctly, the child may be tempted to put it behind their back, which puts them at great risk for injury . Open Belt Guides There are several different types of “guides” that position the shoulder belt on high back boosters. Some of these guides can allow the child to lean forward and introduce slack into the shoulder portion of the belt, but when they lean back, the belt cannot retract. This can put the child at risk, as the upper body protection has been compromised. Try the seat out in your vehicle and be sure that the shoulder portion of the belt can move freely through the belt guide.

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