The Posture Mistake That Could Be Causing Back Pain, and What to Do

From a dull ache to a sudden, sharp pain, if you find yourself frequently struggling with pain in your back, you aren’t alone. Harvard Health Publishing explains that the cause of back pain can range from a sports injury, to scoliosis, to repetitive activities at work or at home like carrying heavy items. But if you frequently find yourself aching after a long day of sitting in front of the computer, slouching might be to blame, and the solution could be as simple as paying attention to your posture. 

The Correct Way to Sit 

Cleveland Clinic defines posture as the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting or lying down. Harvard Health Publishing explains that good posture means the bones of the spine are correctly aligned, which the Cleveland Clinic says helps prevent wear and tear on joints, and keeps fatigue and pain at bay. 

Ways to Improve Your Posture

Harvard Health Publishing outlines four ways your can improve your posture, therefore helping to prevent back pain:

  • Imagery: Think of a straight line passing through your body from ceiling to floor, and imagine there’s a strong cord attached to the top of your head, pulling you upward and making you taller. As you sit, keep your pelvic area held in one position and don’t allow your lower back to slump. 
  • Shoulder blade squeeze: Sit up straight in a chair with your shoulders down and your hands resting on your thighs. Slowly push your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold for five seconds and repeat three or four times.
  • Upper-body stretch: Stand facing a corner with your arms raised, your hands flat against the walls, and your elbows at shoulder height. Stand with one foot in front of the other. Bending your forward knee, exhale as you lean your body toward the corner. Keep your back straight and your chest and head up. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and remember to relax.
  • Arm-across-chest stretch: Raise your right arm to shoulder level in front of you and bend the arm at the elbow, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor. Grasp the right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it across your chest so that you feel a stretch in the upper arm and shoulder on the right side. Hold for 20 seconds. Repeat to the other side. Repeat three times on each side.

Remember to take time throughout the day to pause and practice one or more of these exercises. You might even set a reminder on your phone, or make sure you do them when you get up to go to lunch or use the bathroom. Make it a habit that is relaxing and mindful.

For more information on back pain and what you can do to help, visit MedlinePlus.gov.

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