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Article by Infofit

How to Have a Proper Posture with Postural Hygiene Exercises

Do you or someone you know suffer from back pain? Do you sit a lot at work? Then maybe what you need is Postural Hygiene exercises.

Proper Posture Tips for a Healthy, Happy Spine!

Do you or someone you know suffer from back pain?  Do you sit a lot at work? Then maybe what you need is Postural Hygiene exercises.

What Is Postural Hygiene?

Postural hygiene is a term developed by Andre Noel Potvin, president of Infofit Educators to encourage his clients to perform quick and easy daily exercises that offset the daily tension that builds in their muscles due to gravity, poor body mechanics, stress and other such factors.

You can prevent back pain by reducing the burden on your spine with simple postural hygiene activities that can be done throughout the day!

Your spine starts out with proper posture being strong and balanced, however, over time when you slouch while walking or sit with rounded shoulders, your muscles, tendons and ligaments become imbalanced. When muscles become imbalanced due to a poor posture, you may develop headaches, shoulder pain, upper and lower back pain.

Natural Curves of the Spine

Your spine has three natural curves when it is healthy! The cervical spine (neck) has an inward or forward curve. The thoracic spine (mid-back) has an outward or backward curve. The end of the thoracic spine then goes into the lumbar spine (low back) which ends with another inward curve.

Proper postural hygiene helps to maintain your natural curves! Poor posture puts stress on all of the supporting muscles surrounding the spine which will lead to pain and eventually spinal deformities.

Postural Hygiene Starts While Standing Still

Standing still has specific cues that you should be aware of to attain proper posture!

  1.  Stand straight with your shoulders back and down.
  2.  Keep your head level; chin should be parallel to the floor, and your ears should be in line with your shoulders.
  3.  Pull in your abdomen, ensure your lumbar spine is neutral and your hips are level.
  4.  Your feet should be shoulder-width apart, don’t lock your knees.
  5. Keep your weight evenly distributed throughout your feet.
  6. Let your hands hang naturally at your sides with the palms facing in.

Proper Posture from a Sitting Position

proper posture 1
proper posture

Much of the cues for sitting in a chair will be similar to standing when it comes to the upper body. The differences will come with the lower body. When it comes to a proper sitting position at work, it is always recommended to have an ergonomic specialist do a full analysis of your work station.

Setting up your chair can be tricky, however here are a few cues to help with appropriate adjustments!

1) The seat should be adjusted so your feet are flat on the floor and your knees are at a 90° angle. Don’t cross your legs!

2) There should be a small space between the back of your knees and seat of your chair.

3) Ensure your chair supports your lumbar spine, you should maintain a neutral spine. Get a lumbar support if your chair cannot be set-up with a proper functional position.

4) Similar to a standing position the crown of your head should be pointing to the ceiling above not to the wall behind you. The chin should be parallel to the ground. The ears in line with your shoulders.

5) The shoulders should be down and back in a neutral position. Make sure they are relaxed, not rounded, elevated or over retracted.

Postural Hygiene Exercises for Work

proper posture 3

Chair Arches

  •    Sitting upright in your chair, push your buttocks to the back of the chair
  •    Place your hands on the top, back portion of your head
  •    Place your feet firmly on the floor
  •    Arch your back over your chair comfortably
  •    Go only as far as is comfortable, no pain please.
  •    Squeeze your shoulder blades back and down
  •    Take a deep breath, then exhale
  •    Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 3-5 times
proper posture 4

Chair Twists

  •    Sitting upright in your chair
  •    Turn and reach for the back of the chair
  •    Using your arms gently twist your body
  •    Go only as far as is comfortable, no pain please.
  •    Take a deep breath, then exhale
  •    Hold for 5-seconds and repeat 2-times each side

Elbow Push-Backs

  •    Sit up straight with your upper back off the seat back
  •    Place your elbows into the seat back rest
  •    Depress your shoulders downwards while you PUSH your elbows back into the seat
  •    Now turn your arms outward (like hitch hiking)
  •    Hold for 5-seconds
  •    Repeat 5-times

Overhead Reaches

  • Sitting with your feet hip-width apart, knees bent and your heels in contact with the floor.
  • Sit up straight (imagine a broomstick on your spine)
  • Bend your arms in front of your body
  • Lean your upper body forward – hinge from the hips and keep your back straight
  • Don’t look up, look at your desk
  • Hold this “lean forward” position and extend your arms in front of your body
  • Hold this position for 5-seconds
  • Repeat 5-times

It’s Never Too Late to Make Improvements

It’s never too late to start making improvements. Practicing proper posture may feel unnatural to start, and you may feel stiff at first if you haven’t sat properly for an extended period of time. The primary way to maintain proper posture is always to practice good postural hygiene. People who have allowed their posture to become extremely out of alignment should hire an advanced personal trainer to develop a proper core strengthening and stretching program to re balance their joints and muscles!

Happy Training!

Cathie Glennon – BCRPA/SFL