[Updated on 1 June 2020] If you are a health-conscious person, then you are probably haunted by the idea that you need to have a correct posture, and this often means indulging in a tedious, chronic, uncertain battle against self-imposed crookedness. A big part of how we acquire our posture might be linked to how we spend a big chunk of our day sitting down at work, and when we go home, we avoid indulging in physical exercise and spend the better part of our evening in front of a computer or the television watching our favorite shows.
The best example of good posture is visible in children, whose daily activities clearly show that most of them have the perfect posture. Think of it, when kids watch television, they will invariably sit on the floor completely upright and most of the time with a straight back. Adults, on the other hand, will begin to fatigue in a minute, trying to adopt the same sitting style and will end up slouching forward and supporting their weight on their knees. This is usually the result of sitting down on soft, comfortable inviting chairs- a seated position that requires little to no effort from your back, core, or abdominal muscles. When these muscles are rarely used, they lose condition.
What is a poor sitting posture?
The simplest explanation of poor posture is any self-imposed, habitual positioning that causes long-term physical stress, especially when it comes to coping poorly with postural challenges. Postural challenges are any hindrances that make it harder to maintain a comfortable sitting posture, for instance, work. One of the most common sources of postural challenges in modern life is an awkward tool use; better known as crappy ergonomics.
When an individual spends an awful lot of time seated with their knees tucked sharply under their chair is a classic example of poor sitting posture. It’s not advisable to sit in this position; since its a hazard to the kneecaps; something that can be avoided but doesn’t nearly get avoided since most people fail to understand how their knees work in the first place.
Does my Sitting Posture Matter?
As it turns out, most people are repulsive and tend to avoid the most ineffective responses to the most significant postural challenges. Humans are naturally allergic to physical stress. And if you are like most of us, you prefer sitting in a comfortable position than a strenuous one. And while postural might seem evil, most people also naturally tend to keep up their postural fitness for the things that they care about. For instance, if you love playing a certain sport, you will keep playing it.
Therefore, the problem that stems from a poor sitting posture is mostly self-limiting and minor. The worst issues are avoided instinctively and naturally. The postural physical fitness that matters the most is usually solved automatically, and what remains is usually trivial.
What are the effects of bad sitting posture?
Over time, bad sitting posture becomes your regular sitting posture, and this slouching can lead to a host of problems, including:
- Pain in the shoulders
- Joint, neck, and lower back pain
- Pain in the knees
Neglecting these areas of fitness lead to detrained muscles, and the result is that you’ll begin to struggle to keep an upright posture. Some of the primary areas that suffer from your postural neglect include your back, chest, core and abdominal muscles. These areas can end up being too tight, weak or overstretched.
Over time, the muscles in your chest can lose their flexibility when your shoulders are pulled forward, something that happens when an individual continually sits in a hunched position driving or when working on your computer.
Postural muscles run around your body from the rib cage to the groin, offering essential support and strength to the entire body. Often, these become de-trained through the lack of use, that eventually negatively affect your sitting posture.
When you lack attention in maintaining a good abdominal muscle tone, it often results in a weekend abdominal wall leading to a sagging stomach.
Upper back pain can be caused by poor sitting posture caused by years of working on the computer or driving to work that often leaves an individual with an overstretched upper back muscle which leads to a rounded shoulder look
In case you have abdominal muscles that are weakened, the resulting lack of support visible at the front part of your body could result in the gradual arching your back. This effect often occurs when the spine attempts to counteract the weight imposed by a sagging stomach.
Exercises for better sitting posture
The following are exercising that work to train the muscles that are in charge of supporting your spine, which in the long run, helps you maintain a proper sitting position.
The Warrior Pose
The Warrior pose is a unique exercise that works to strengthen your things while at the same time significantly working on stretching your arms. These areas are very important when it comes to reducing the load and strain on your spine.
To effectively perform this exercise, begin by standing with your legs straight together with your arms stretched out upwards. Gently step to the front with your right foot, ensuring that your knees are at a 90-degree angle. Make sure your foot is firmly planted on the ground. The next step is to stretch your left leg, now hold this position for about 5 to 10 seconds and stand back up. Repeat the entire routine for your opposite legs.
This particular exercise works to stimulate pushups while in a complete standing position. It works to stretch out your chest muscles, easing spinal pain. Begin the exercise by standing in an open doorway. Ensure that you place your hands at shoulder height outside the frame of the door. Now, bend your elbows and lean forward on your toes, ensuring that your chest remains straight, then push forward, straightening your elbows. Now, repeat this action about 5 to 10 times. The more you perform this exercise, the more you will notice that it is easier to bend your elbows resuming your initial stance. The main goal here is to be able to do about 10 to 25 repetitions without straining.
Working on your Glutes (Glute Bridge)
Experiencing hip and lower back pain is often a result of having weak glute muscles that have problems carrying the weight of your spine. When you have a poor sitting posture, it normally takes the pressure out of your glutes, which at the end of it all ends up weakening them more. By doing this exercise regularly, it can help relieve the pain that is caused by inactive glute muscles, ultimately preventing new pain from occurring.
To effectively perform this exercise, lay down flat on your exercising mat on the floor and your back. Ensure your knees are bending at a 45-degree angle, and that your legs are held tightly together. Now, push up your buttocks making sure you are bending your knees at a 90-degree angle. Keep your chest down, clench your buttocks and remain focused on pushing your legs down to the floor. Maintain this position for a few seconds before you release it.
In case this exercise feels too easy, you could try raising one leg while pushing up your buttocks.
Pushups to strengthen your shoulders
Apart from doing normal pushups, you can also try this simple variation that works to train and strengthen your shoulders, offering you better support especially after prolonged periods of sitting down. Start this workout in a pushup position, make sure that your body is leaning on your straightened-out arms, back straight, palms facing down, with your legs stretched back. Now, instead of bending your elbows, keep your arms straight and instead allow your shoulders to move. For maximum effect repeat this routine until you can easily perform three sets of ten repetitions.
Stretching your Trapezoids
This simple stretch improves your shoulder area’s flexibility, where it is connected to the spine. It works to help your neck become limber preventing future pain in the area. To start on this workout, stand or sit down on a chair that doesn’t have a back. Keep your back straight, with your arms loose at the side of your body and your legs straight touching the floor. Now, with one hand, reach out to touch the opposite side of your head, gently pulling it down towards your shoulder. Try as much as possible not to exert force to avoid injuring the region. Keep in mind that your hand’s objective is to aid in the neck’s stretch, and not ideal for it. Keep your head in this position for about 30 seconds, release it, then repeat for the other side. Make sure to perform this stretch twice on each side.
This workout helps to relax your spine, regaining its natural curve, enabling you to maintain a better posture when you sit or stand up.
For this exercise, get a few books, and use them to make a 6cm to 9cm support for your head. You can use whatever makes you comfortable. In case your chin is dipping in towards your chest, don’t use the book. Now, bend your knees, making sure your feet are flat on the floor. Keep your knees slightly wider than hip-width apart. Now, with your shoulders resting on the floor, bring your hands to rest somewhere between your lower ribs and hips, anything that makes you feel comfortable. Remain in this position for 10 to 20 minutes and feel your spine slowly, soften and relax.
This exercise is meant to expand your chest to relieve pain from your spine, helping you resume an upright sitting position. For this exercise, you will need a counterweight like a spongy roll or even a rolled-up yoga mat. Lean back on the roll while ensuring that you are maintaining a natural arch in your lower back with your chest elevated. Now, place your hands behind your head, putting your palms at the back of your neck, and then lean down straightening your back. Make sure you keep your chin up to prevent any unnecessary stretching of the neck. As you lean back, turn your focus to expand your rib cage. During this exercise, it is vital that your back remains static.
Strengthen your shoulder blades
The main goal of this exercise is to move the bones that connect your collar bone and your arm to stretch and strain your back muscles and help them offer full support to your spine. Now, get up and stand straight, making sure your shoulders are loose. Now, move your shoulder blades towards each other until you can feel them meet. Remain in this position for 5 seconds. Release then repeat the entire routine five times.
Thigh Muscle Stretch (Quad / Hamstring Stretch)
Your hip muscles offer support to your back. It’s hard for most people to think that your back pains are a result of weak thigh muscles. Start this routine by getting down on one knee; ensuring that it is bent at a 90-degree angle with your other leg pulled back; keeping your knee below your ankle.
This exercise is excellent for strengthening your core stability muscles that normally wrap around our midsection middle and help in supporting your lumbar spine. Having any weakness in these muscles leads to poor sitting and overall posture.
To perform this exercise, start on all fours, ensuring that your hands are under your shoulder and your knees are under your hips. Keep your eye focused on the floor. Inhale strongly, and as you breathe out, lift your right arm and left leg out straight, ensuring that that they are level with your body. Avoid leaning into your right hip in an attempt to attain support; instead, counterpoise by engaging your midsection stability muscles.
They are like a corset draped around your middle section, now imagine pulling them tightly in. Inhale then release both your leg and arm back to the starting position. Make sure that both your arm and leg touch the floor at the same time. Breathe out, and then raise your opposite arm and leg. Breathe in deeply and lower. The point here is to keep moving with each breath. Try and aim for 10 to 20 raises in total.
It’s very important to remember that performing these twice a day will not do anything to counter sitting down for 8 hours a day. Therefore; it is important to be aware of your posture when you are seated and make an extra effort to take small breaks to perform mild physical exercises. What these exercises will do, however; is to make it easier to resume a correct sitting position that will not tire your back at the end of the day.