Have you ever been told to stand up straight? Do you roll your shoulders and allow your spine to hunch over? It turns out that poor posture is not only unsightly, but it can also lead to spinal problems, including chronic pain, numbness in the extremities, improper breathing and pinched nerves.
Here are six tips to train your spine for healthy posture.
Adjust your rearview mirror. The next time you get into the driver's seat of your car, take a moment to sit up as tall as you can and adjust your rearview mirror. When you notice you cannot see out of it, readjust your posture instead of the mirror.
Sit at the edge of your chair. If you are lounging back and relying on your chair to support your posture, chances are you are sitting slumped over. If you sit at the edge of your chair, however, not only will you avoid poor posture, but you will train your muscles to support you.
Turn your palms so they face forward. Whenever you are standing, gently turn your hands so your palms face forward. This subtle adjustment will pull your shoulder blades back, opening your chest.
Raise your sternum. If you hunch your shoulders, your sternum collapses and compresses your chest cavity. In order to open your chest and improve posture, imagine attaching a string to your sternum and lifting this string up and out. Your chest will expand and your shoulders will roll back.
Vary your computer desk and chair. Try a stability ball, kneeling chair, or standing desk in order to change your standard computer set-up. These are great tools to help you vary your position and also to train your body to engage muscles that will support your posture.
Engage in core strengthening exercises. Practices such as yoga, pilates and dance help to raise our awareness about our posture as well as to teach us to engage our core stabilizing muscles. The more we become familiar with our posture in class, the more we can take this awareness out into our lives.
With over 20 years of experience as a specialist in the upper cervical spine, Upper Cervical Chiropractor Dr. Erin Elster, D.C., has been helping patients with spinal injuries for the past three years on Maui. For more information, contact Dr. Elster in Kahului at (808) 866-6551 or www.erinelster.com.