Good Posture While Sitting

Parents often remind children to sit up straight or not slouch, often more annoyingly than necessary! Good posture is vitally important, for more reasons than simply looking good!

Bad posture overworks muscles and can lead to neck or shoulder strain, backache and joint damage. By practicing good posture regularly, we can alleviate such health issues while improving overall wellness.

Home based business owners may spend hours sitting at a computer.  This brief article will help you be more aware of your posture while you sit those hours away.

Maintain a Straight Back

As a child, you likely relied on adults around you to tell you to “sit up straight.” While this could sometimes be annoying, good posture is vitally important to our overall health as an adult. By keeping muscles, ligaments and tendons functioning optimally without strain, or excess strain being put on them, we may avoid the early degeneration of muscle and skeletal structures.

Sitting for extended periods in an hunched position can lead to back pain and other health complications, yet this posture can be corrected through making simple lifestyle adjustments.

Maintaining good posture requires keeping both feet flat on the ground and sitting against the back of your chair.  A pillow or rolled up towel may be useful to support the lower back while sitting, to reduce any unnecessary stress on muscles and tendons of the back and neck.

Exercise regularly. Stretching and other core-muscle strengthening exercises are great ways to maintain good posture, as are strengthening exercises that engage core muscles like stability training or resistance training. 

Maintain a Straight Neck

Your mother may have been right in telling you to stop slouching; when you slouch, neck muscles and joints become overworked and strain can result in muscle fatigue, overuse disorders and back and neck pain. By maintaining correct posture, natural curves of the spine are preserved while abnormal wear on joint surfaces is reduced, and spinal muscles function more efficiently.

Sitting with proper posture promotes health in all four areas: pelvis, hips, spine and shoulders. To do this properly it’s essential that feet remain flat on the floor or use a footrest when sitting for prolonged periods. Avoid crossleg sitting as this puts extra stress on thighs and knees, tightening up muscles that tighten with time, or cause irritation to these areas. Also it is important that your chest is kept high while not hunching over. Doing so places additional weight on shoulders, which may result in pain due to extra strain being placed upon them.  

Maintain a Straight Hip

Poor posture while standing can also wreak havoc with your neck and back. Avoid jutting out your bum backward or leaning too far forward while standing, and position the computer screen high enough so as to allow proper head and shoulder alignment.  You can try elevating your laptop if you can still type with good wrist alignment.

Crossing your legs or keeping one leg tucked under another can put unnecessary stress on hip flexor muscles, leading them to tighten and weaken over time. Therefore, it is crucial that regular breaks be taken during the day for getting up and moving around to promote mobility, joint health, avoid stiffness and fatigue and promote overall joint wellbeing.

As an additional measure to regular exercise, those suffering from poor posture could consult with a physical therapist who can offer exercises and strategies designed to improve both their posture and overall health. Chiropractors are trained in body alignment and can make adjustments to correct areas of concern.

Simple movements that may help

The first thing a frequent sitter should try are some simple exercises to improve flexibility and help alleviate stiffness. While this website does not give medical advice, we have listed some commonly used exercises that may be helpful. Please consider your health status before trying the examples mentioned here.

Seated Chest Stretch

This simple seated exercise will stretch and strengthen chest muscles. Simply begin by sitting up tall in a chair, reaching both arms out straight at shoulder height. Press gently through space between palm and arm against wall or doorway until chest opens up, then switch which arm is on top between reps, doing 10-20 for optimal results!

Interlock your fingers behind your head, move your elbows backwards and squeeze together shoulders to stretch chest muscles while sitting or standing. Vary hand placement to emphasize shoulders or chest (hands on forehead or above head). Add additional resistance or move in and out of stretch for dynamic stretching experience.

Seated Hip Flexor Stretch (Chair Pigeon)

This stretch targets your hip flexors and quadriceps muscles in the front of your thighs, muscles which become tight from sitting all day long. To start this exercise, stand in front of a chair with your weight shifting onto your left foot (long seating). Flex your right foot against the seat while holding onto its edge with your right hand.

To deepen this pose, bring your torso down and press the foot of one bent leg into your hand. Stretch out your spine as long as possible, while staying here for five breaths, before releasing and switching sides. This pose also helps release tension in the piriformis muscle, which when tight can cause lower back pain.

Seated Tricep Stretch

Triceps stretching can help relieve tightness in your arms, and the overhead tricep stretch is an ideal way to start. This stretch targets the long head of your tricep, which may become tight from sitting or limited shoulder mobility.

This exercise can be performed seated or standing. To start, extend one arm straight overhead and bend its elbow so that its hand comes down behind your head. With your other hand, gently pull on its elbow until a stretch is felt in your triceps, holding this stretch for 30-60 seconds as soon as you feel your triceps relaxing.  Switch sides after 30-60 seconds of holding this stretch, increasing intensity as needed until relaxing again and repeat.

Add some difficulty to this stretch by linking your hands using a pole or strap – this deepens triceps stretching while providing gentle shoulder movement that promotes flexibility.

Wall Sits

The Wall Sit exercise is an isometric movement designed to develop strength and endurance in your quads, hamstrings, calves and core. In addition, this workout also tones hips and legs. To perform it effectively, lean against a wall with your back against it, and feet shoulder-width apart and planted firmly on the ground. Slowly slide down into chair position before holding for 10 seconds before returning back up again.

This exercise targets the quadricep muscles found on the front of your thighs. Additionally, it strengthens hamstring muscles found at the back of your lower leg as well as adductor muscles present within your inner thigh.

Add weights to this exercise for an increased challenge: simply hold two dumbbells in each hand while maintaining the basic wall sit position and performing repetitions until your desired number of reps or timeframe have been met.

Seated Shoulder Stretch

If your work involves repetitive overhead motions such as throwing or swimming, this exercise will help with shoulder mobility and stability, improve strength and reduce injury risk.

Start in a tall kneeling position, with feet under butt and hips pushing forward, before moving in and out of shoulder stretches, holding each one for 30 seconds each time.

This exercise will target a group of muscles known as the Rhomboids. These are responsible for drawing shoulder blades closer together, creating more squared-off shoulders and preventing round shoulders.

This exercise provides an excellent alternative to the standing Arnold press, which may cause back issues if arching your spine too far. By regularly practicing this and maintaining proper sitting posture while sitting, these exercises will drastically decrease strain on your body and prevent muscle tightness and pain.

Seated Arm Stretch

Sitting for long periods can leave our necks stiff and tight. This seated stretching exercise helps ease this tension by stretching them out with ease.

This stretch is an effective way to stretch in between strength training and HIIT sessions, helping increase shoulder and scapular range of motion – perfect for reaching those high shelves in the kitchen!

Sit upright with proper posture while holding both hands together while grasping a band with both. If possible, place palms closer together for increased difficulty. Slowly bend elbows back behind head until band reaches 90 degree angle behind your head before pressing back up again – repeat for 16 reps on one side before switching sides.

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