Correct posture is important to keep the body healthy and free from back pain. Slumping or slouching is an indication of lack of alignment of the different parts of the body, such as the head, neck, spine and the lower limbs. This could lead to back and neck pains in due course of time.
Most of us spend a lot of time sitting - in offices, in cars, while commuting in trains, and buses, when going to work or returning home. Sitting for prolonged periods constrains the body joints to remain un-flexed, reducing their movements in comparison, to say, walking around. This kind of inactivity whether at work or at home characterises a sedentary lifestyle and generally results in weight gain, which compounds the problem.
Maintaining good posture distributes the forces acting within the body optimally so that the musco- skeletal system remains in harmony – this protects the body from injury and deterioration. Keeping the spine straight is of great importance as the internal organs remain in their proper positions and do not get ‘crowded’, impairing proper functioning. Sitting for extended periods of time with an incorrect posture could lead to stress headaches, tensed shoulders and lower back pain.
To assess whether a person’s posture is correct, a string is tied to the ceiling and suspended by a weight. The person should look into a mirror and see whether her/his body deviates from this line, forwards and backwards; side to side and make corrections as necessary. Ideally one should keep the spine straight, keep the shoulders down from the ears and pull in the stomach muscles.
Professionals who deal with back and neck pain conditions give some tips on managing such situations especially when the pains are severe
- Exercises that stretch the spine of the ‘Pilates’ type or yoga can alleviate persons suffering from these pains.
- While carrying bags, one should frequently shift the heavier bag from one hand to the other. It is preferable to use a back pack with shoulder straps that puts the weight on each shoulder equally
- While working on a computer avoid relying on the back of the chair for support. Come forward in the seat, keeping a small curve in the lower back..
- Keep the legs forward bent at the knee and feet planted on the floor firmly.
- At home it is advisable to sit on straight back chairs, even though sofas may be more comfortable.
- It is also suggested that sitting cross legged may misalign the pelvis and the spine; so that should also be avoided.
Some simple exercises for reliving back and neck pain for people who work long hours before computers:
- Lie down on the ground on a yoga mat.
- Put your head over your palms with the fingers intertwined.
- Stretch your legs and your body.
- Pull up your legs so that the knees meet.
- Turn your knees towards the right, simultaneously moving your head leftwards.
- Repeat these movements another ten times.
- This will relieve low back pain and neck stress.
Remember, neck, middle back and lower back pains can be avoided with an active lifestyle and maintaining good posture.
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