Good posture not only prevents back pain and promotes spinal health, it also helps us breathe, think and look better; and be more positive, confident, and productive.
Just as the spine is the foundation of our body’s structure, good posture is the foundation of spinal health. Yet, poor posture and its damaging effects on the spine and overall health are epidemic. This is due primarily to a lack of awareness of how sedentary lifestyles both at home and work, combined with prolonged sitting in ways that produce spinal slumping, cause harm and increased risk of injury. In fact, back pain is the second- leading reason for visits to family doctors in the USA. This article briefly presents some simple solutions to help you begin to achieve good sitting posture – even as you read this!
Our spine is formed with three curves. From the side, these curves look like an elongated “S,” with the head aligned directly above the shoulders and hips. In a healthy spine, these curves bend forward at the neck, backward at the upper back and forward again at the lower back. They serve as shock absorbers that allow us to carry the heavy weight of our bodies effortlessly. They also protect the health and function of our spines. We achieve good posture by developing the habit of maintaining these curves in correct alignment during the course of our day, whether we are sitting, standing or performing our daily activities.
In this moment, while sitting, bring your awareness to your posture. Is your lower back slumped, head lurching forward from your shoulders, shoulders tight? Do you feel any discomfort, tension or “creakiness?” Do you sit for hours hunched over a computer? Are you concerned about your appearance or an increased spinal curvature in years to come?
Now, let’s create an experience of good sitting posture. Reposition yourself so that you are sitting safely but close to the edge of your seat, feet on the floor, slightly pulled in from your knees. If your head is bent in front of your shoulders, become aware of the realignment of your spine as you raise your head and position it directly above your shoulders. If your lower back was sagging backwards, it will have realigned forwards.
Now, take a deep breath. Visualize an imaginary string attached to the back of the crown of your head, gently stretching you up towards the sky, lengthening the back of your neck and your entire spine. Allow your shoulders to relax down and slightly back. Feel the balance. This elongated feeling gives height, form and health to your spine and always accompanies good posture. To recall this experience, imagine the string and say to yourself: “Sit tall!” Congratulations on your first encounter with good sitting posture!
If you are currently in pain, avoid any exercise that makes it worse and consult a specialist.
“Sitting tall” is the model form of good sitting posture. You do not, however, always have to sit on the edge of your seat. To achieve good alignment, proper pillow support of the curve of your lower back will prevent spinal sagging and allow you to maintain the ease and comfort of “sitting tall”. This means that the pillow must have a shape and thickness that will produce a feeling of good support, comfort and ease. However, since chairs vary in their design, the amount of pillow support will change accordingly. Experiment with a variety of chairs and pillows in your home to find the combination that gives the best support.
Integrating new habits requires repetition and reinforcement. Post notes and set your phone to remind you to “sit tall” once per hour.
“Honor the form of your body, in position and movement. Its design is wondrous, awesome, replete with divine wisdom, and leads us to healing.”
Dr. Zalman Medwed. DC, developer of Light Touch Chiropractic Methodologies and The Posture Improvement Program, is an American trained chiropractor with 35+ years of experience. A Jerusalem resident since 1984, Dr. Medwed receives patients locally, nationally and internationally. His practice features an informal patient-to-patient help network. His unique, non-force, exceptionally gentle protocols are particularly suited for delicate and difficult conditions and offer pain relief, healing and restorative movement to people of all ages.
For more free information in this series and to find out about Dr. Medwed’s posture seminars, send your email to [email protected] Dr. Medwed can be contacted at 050-415-4317, 02-654-0246 or www.jerusalemlighttouchchiropractic.com/