Breaking Old Habits

Posture is one of those things that most of us seem to have trouble getting right.  Even though our mothers told us to “sit up straight” when we were young it never seemed to sink in.  Now as we get older and we start getting sore backs and necks or perhaps headaches, we panic and try to fix our posture before it is too late.  Maybe some of us have even looked into the mirror to see if we are getting one of those ‘humps’ on our upper back like our grandmother had.

With our occupations these days we tend to spend more time sitting at desks and computers, which takes its toll on our posture.  Children also spend a lot of time sitting in front of the television and computers.  Many people develop a forward head posture, or ‘poking chin’.  We get tight in our neck muscles and chest and weak in our upper back muscles.  Our hips are bent all day which leads to tight hip muscles and if we are not careful a flexed and painful lower back.  A good office chair and lumbar support will help correct this, as well as standing up and doing some gentle ‘reversals’ or back bends.  Regular stretches of the neck, hips and lower back will also help and these can be done easily at work or at the end and beginning of each day.  An ergonomic assessment of the work environment can be relatively inexpensive and may make a big difference in correcting poor posture and habits.  A headset for regular use on the phone will prevent hlolding the phone between the ear and shoulder which over time will cause neck pain.

It is possible to help our posture at any age with some gentle mobilisations of the spine, as well as massage and some stretches to assist with tight muscles.  Simple home stretches and strengthening exercises can be done as well, to correct any tight or weak muscles which may be contributing to the problem.

Remember, the best time to help with posture is when we are young – before bad habits form.  So take time to educate your kids in to how to sit at school and how to properly carry bags.  A backpack is best, so that the weight is evenly distributed over both sides of their back.  The bag should have the straps done up correctly to keep the load close to the body.  They should not carry heavy loads of books – encourage the use of lockers.  Kids when they have big growth spurts can get very tight in their muscles and need to do stretches also.  Good habits start at a young age. 

By Melanie Roberts

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