The importance of posture
Everyday activities at work or at home often lead us to spend far too much time hunched over. The result is poor posture, which increases tiredness and can place a strain on the spine. Good posture is essential for the health of the skeleton and for safe and effective movement in everyday life.
Improve your posture
Lengthen your neck upward
Ease your shoulders down
Adjust your pelvic tilt
Notice you have grown taller and slimmer
Check your posture
Stand in front of a long mirror and compare yourself to the photographs. Ask a friend to help with this. Check often when standing or sitting, to ensure that you have not slumped down.
The importance of pelvic tilt
A correct pelvic tilt is an essential part of good posture; the difference between the correct and incorrect position of your pelvis is a subtle one, needing only a slight tightening of some muscles such as the abdominals, and a loosening of others in your lower back. The photographs show you how to achieve it.
The effect of this slight but vital adjustment is to bring your spine into alignment. Your back will still have natural curves. It should feel good but it will need practice until it becomes an automatic part of you. Do not let your abdominals tighten up so much that you cannot breathe properly.
All the exercises in the programme need to be performed with a correct pelvic tilt to ensure they are done safely, accurately and effectively.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your weight distributed evenly between both feet. Relax your shoulders and place your hands as shown.
Stretch your spine upward as if someone is pulling the crown of your head upward. Tilt your pelvis so that your hips move up toward your face and your tail-bone moves down. Tighten your abdominal muscles to hold the tilt in place. Lift your chest and lengthen the back of your neck to straighten the spine further.
If you have stiff shoulders, start by shrugging your shoulders up to your ears before bringing them down into position.
Look after your back
Before lifting, check your pelvic tilt and tighten your abdominals. Bring the weight in toward your body. Stand up slowly, keep your back upright and make your legs do the work.
Almost everyone gets back pain at some time in their lives and it can prevent them leading an active life. One of the commonest causes of back pain is damage to the discs between the vertebrae, or a sprain of the back muscles or ligaments due to lifting something too heavy or lifting in an awkward manner.
Lifting from the floor with your arms extended and your back bent is a recipe for disaster as the leverage is poor, so the weight borne by your back is perhaps ten times the weight you are trying to lift. If the muscles are not strong enough, the ligaments take too much strain and may tear. Using the lifting technique shown here will help to protect your back; remember to use this technique for all lifting tasks.
Maintaining good posture throughout the day and using a chair that supports your lower back helps to prevent back pain. If you have a back problem or have had a hip fracture, you should avoid lifting heavy objects.
Stand with your feet and legs hip-width apart, with one leg slightly forward. Bend your knees and keep your back straight.