Pain, stiffness, fatigue are issues that affect us all as we age, but, how many times has someone asked the question, “What is good posture?” Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities.
When it comes to posture, mother knows best. Her frequent reminders to stand up straight and stop slouching are good advice. Good posture contributes to a good appearance. A slumped posture indicates a curvature of the spine. Good posture keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly. It helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis and decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
Good standing posture
When standing, keep these tips in mind: Hold your chest high; keep your shoulders back and relaxed, pull in your abdomen and buttocks, keep your feet parallel and balance your weight evenly on both feet. Try not to tilt your head forward, backward or sideways, and make sure your knees are relaxed — not locked.
Take the wall test
To test your standing posture, take the wall test. Stand with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall, and your heels about two to four inches (five to 10 centimeters) away from the wall. Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.
Ideally, you’ll feel about one hand’s thickness of space between your back and the wall. If there’s too much space, tighten your abdominal muscles to flatten the curve in your back. If there’s too little space, arch your back so that your hand fits comfortably behind you. Walk away from the wall while maintaining this posture. Keep it up throughout your daily activities.
Proper posture requirements:
Correct sitting position
Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips. Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (use a foot rest or stool if necessary).
Your legs should not be crossed. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes. At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed. When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
Correct driving position
Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips. Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
Correct lifting position
If you must lift objects, do not try to lift objects that are awkward or are too heavy. Before you lift a heavy object, make sure you have firm footing. To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips.
Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight. Stand with a wide stance close to the object you are trying to pick up and keep your feet firm on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Straighten your knees in a steady motion.
Don’t jerk the object up to your body. Stand completely upright without twisting. Always move your feet forward when lifting an object. If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge to the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.
Best position for sleeping and lying down
No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position. Try to sleep in a position which helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back; or on your side with your knees slightly bent).
Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. You may want to avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress, since this can cause back strain and can be uncomfortable for your neck. Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. Try to do what’s most comfortable for you.
This information could save your life! Beware of pain medications
Whether rescription or over-the-counter, there are incredible hazards linked to pain medications. The concern about pain medications is significant to the point that the risk of someone dying directly from a side-effect from pain medication is higher than the chance of dying from illegal narcotics, diabetes, lung disease, or even an automobile accident. Take note of the following:
Common opiate-based prescription drugs such as Codeine, Morphine, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Oxycodone are often prescribed after surgery, major accidents, severe injuries or for painful medical conditions. Research shows that the number of overdose deaths from opiate pain medication overdoses is now greater than those of deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.
Non-Steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drug (NSAID)
You have heard the names before: ibuprofen, naprosyn, Motrin, etc. Research shows that patients with a history of prior heart attack that took NSAIDs — even in the short term— had a greater risk of death, or another heart attack.
The National Cancer Institute discovered that those taking 400mg doses of the drug had a 250 percent greater risk of dying from heart attack or stroke and those taking 800mg had a 340 percent higher risk.
Message: Beware. Avoid self-medication and do not use any drug without doctor’s advice.