Home Health & Wellness Why Fixing Your Posture Should Be on Your Health Radar for 2024

Why Fixing Your Posture Should Be on Your Health Radar for 2024

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When people want to work at improving their health, individuals commonly turn to fixes such as eating a more healthy diet or exercising more, but how often does posture come into this conversation? With over 2.8 million adults suffering from chronic back pain in the UK, this should be at the top of our radar.

To explain the significance of posture for our physical and mental health, independent occupational therapist Julie Jennings, working with HSL Chairs, shares how you can identify if you have bad posture and what this can mean.

Bad posture can have multiple implications for your health, especially if unaddressed. Julie states: “Slouching on sofas and sitting hunched over desks is detrimental to our health. From painful back and neck aches to digestive problems, having bad posture can lead to some unpleasant long-term effects that can worsen as you age.” 

Julie stresses: “Prolonged joint and muscle stiffness can lead to restricted mobility, loss of function and independence, arthritic conditions, respiratory illnesses, bladder and bowel problems and increased pressure on the heart and circulatory system. Poor posture can also activate the stress centre in the brain, which, coupled with reduced blood flow to the brain, could affect cognitive function.”

If you’re unsure about the quality of your posture, you can follow a simple check to determine whether your posture is considered “good” or “bad”.

Julie shares: “Start by standing with the back of your head against a wall and placing your heels around half a ruler’s distance (15 centimetres) from the wall, with your buttocks and shoulders touching the surface. If you have good posture, the gap between both your neck and the small of your back should be less than 5 centimetres from the wall. A larger gap indicates poor posture and a curving spine.”

If your posture is a cause for concern, it’s not too late to start developing and improving habits. Acting now can slow down the negative effects of bad posture and, in some instances, halt them completely.

Build strength through stretching

Julie says: “Stretching regularly helps you build strength by putting your muscles to work. There are so many different types and variations of stretches to suit all different levels of flexibility and mobility.

“To improve your posture, make sure you’re focusing on stretches that target your back, neck, and core. If unsure where to start, you can follow simple tutorials on YouTube or attend a beginner’s yoga class in your local area.”

Practise sitting correctly

Julie shares: “Over time, many of us develop what is known as comfort posture. This refers to the most comfortable position we adopt in a particular seat, but in many cases, this position isn’t supportive.

“To practise sitting correctly, whether that be on your sofa, desk chair, or armchair, make a conscious effort to sit straight with your feet on the floor with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle. Your head should be balanced above your shoulders, not leaning forward, and your spine should follow its natural curvature.”

Invest in supportive furniture

Julie explains: “Chairs that aren’t well made or aren’t supportive are not just uncomfortable, but will prevent you from being able to sit properly. To maintain a good sitting posture, your chair must be comfortable, supportive, and fit properly into your position. 

“Ergonomic furniture that is designed to prop your body upright is the most comfortable option for people who want to give their back the best support. Riser recliner chairs are a great option as they help to provide the essential lumbar support needed to help you achieve that neutral spine position It can also help to relieve pain from arthritis.”

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