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5 tips to improve your posture

Poor posture can cause extreme discomfort in the form of lower back pain, neck spasms and shoulder aches. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve this condition.  Ruth Gronde, an ergonomic therapist at Piedmont, shares easy tips to get the slump out of your back.

1. Exercise. “Exercise is one of the best ways to improve your posture,” Gronde says. “I promote doing a combination of different exercise routines to strengthen your body and maintain proper alignment.”  

Weight-bearing exercises, like walking or running, can help build bone strength.  This is especially important for post-menopausal women who may develop severe postural changes from osteoporosis.

Core stability exercises strengthen abdominal and lower back muscles that connect to the spine. And aerobic exercise helps stabilize the spine to keep you upright when you move.

2. Use a pillow when relaxing on living room furniture. Sitting on a comfy couch or chair is pretty bad for your back, because it puts you in really deep slouch position. You can improve that by adding an extra pillow behind your back, or adding an extra pillow to sit on so you are not slouched down as far.

3. Make sure your work station is ergonomically correct. If you spend most of your day behind a computer screen, make sure you set up your workstation properly.

Get a good chair that has been adjusted for you. Keep your keyboard directly in front of you and close to your body. Make sure items that you use often are easily reachable so that you are not constantly bending over. And position your monitor directly in front of you above your keyboard.

Gronde says it is also important to take frequent breaks to break up long periods of sitting.

“Take frequent breaks to stand, walk and move more often, so you limit those long periods of time when you are just sitting and immobile,” Gronde says.

4. Limit bending. Bending down to do routine activities puts stress on your spine.  Store things that you retrieve frequently as close to your waist height as possible. If you are organizing a garage or closet, place commonly used items on shelves or pegboards instead of the floor to eliminate a lot of repetitive lifting. You can follow that same advice in your office or storage rooms.

5. Prop up electronic devices. Tablets and handheld electronics can be bad for your neck posture. When you look down all of the time at keyboards, tablets and cellphones, it can put stress on the backside of your neck.  

“I routinely recommend that you prop up your devices, so we are not looking straight down at anything, especially right at your lap for a laptop or a tablet,” Gronde says.

For more helpful, healthful tips, click here.

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