Maintaining good posture is extremely important for long term health and wellness. Learn and practice the correct way to stand up straight, sit correctly and hold electronic devices with proper posture.
What effects does poor posture have on our body?
Dr. Chris Serafini: This is a great question. It has numerous effects. I’m going to start with some research from Mayo Clinic. A lot of poor posture really starts with what we reference as forward head posture. The head moves out in front of the body, it’s going to pull the entire spine out of alignment. We reference it once again as forward head posture. The ear holes should be centered over top of the middle of the shoulder. According to Mayo Clinic, it says more forward head posture leads to long term muscle strain, disc herniations, arthritis, and pinched nerves.
In addition to that, the forward pull of the weight of the head puts really a lot of undue stress on the vertebrae of the lower neck, contributes to degenerative disc disease and other degenerative neck problems. Similarly, this posture really causes the muscles of the upper back to continually overwork to counterbalance that pull of gravity on the forward head. This position is often accompanied by forward shoulders and a rounded upper back, which not only feeds into the neck problem, but can also cause shoulder problems, upper back problems, mid back problems. The more time spent with forward head posture, the more likely it is that one will really develop neck and shoulder problems, and mid back problems.
How can you tell if you are maintaining the best possible posture throughout the day?
Dr. Chris Serafini: I would say a couple different things. First of all, you want to kind of reference what is good posture. Let’s look at some different points. Certain things you want to pay attention to. Good posture would consist of, your chin is parallel to the floor, your shoulders are even. You want to roll your shoulders up and back and down to help achieve this. Flexible spine, no flexing or arching to over-emphasize the curve in the lower back. Your arms should be at your sides with your elbows straight and even, abdominal muscles braced, hips even, knees even, pointing straight ahead, and body weight distributed to both feet.
Just really more proper ergonomics. You want to make sure, for instance, you would look at yourself in the mirror. Let’s say you’re at work, you can do that or you’re working out or you’re at home. You could look in the mirror and see if you have level head, is there any head tilt, one higher shoulder, one lower hip, those types of things. Could also ask somebody to take a look at you if you can’t really identify the imbalances in your posture, somebody else might be able to do that for you. Then also, just being mindful. Most people, if you kind of check in with yourself, you can kind of really realize you’re either slumping, slouching, your head is out in front of you. You just want to be aware of it and check in and kind of be mindful of it.
What are some tips for maintaining the best posture while sitting at a desk chair all day?
Dr. Chris Serafini: I’d say, when sitting down you want to keep your chin parallel to the floor, your shoulders, hips, and knees an even height, and your knees and feet pointing straight ahead. In addition to that, once again, proper ergonomics such as where the monitor is positioned, where your keyboard is positioned. Then in addition to that, kind of dovetails into that is proper equipment or tools. Once again, you can have like, an ergonomic keyboard, a pull-out desk, maybe a standing desk. Things like that you want to look for.
How should people use handheld devices without slouching over to look at them?
Dr. Chris Serafini: You want to hold the device up towards your face. You want to keep your head not only up, but also back centered over top of the shoulders. You want to use an arm rest. Let’s say you’re sitting in a chair that has an arm rest on it, if you’re holding the device in your right hand, you want to put your right elbow on the right arm rest, and it more or less keeps it about your face level, so that helps a lot of times.
If you don’t have an arm rest, you would want to take your opposite hand. Let’s say you’re holding it in your right hand, take your opposite hand, tuck it underneath your elbow, and you kind of use that more or less like a shelf. That will kind of keep that hand up in front of your face, allowing you to look straight ahead instead of slunched over top of the device. Or, you want to try and prop the device up somehow. Whether you use on some sort of a stand, a lot of iPads and things like that have a way of propping them up so you can look at them instead of hovering over top of them.
Lastly, are there exercises we can do to improve our posture?
Dr. Chris Serafini: There are exercises you can do. This is a tough question to really answer in detail without really demonstrating it. I would say, number one, you want to really identify what postural imbalances you have, and then implement and practice some exercises according to those imbalances. You have to really figure out what the problems are. Do you have a high shoulder, a low hip, is your head tilted, do you have forward head posture? Once you identify those, then you would want to try and implement some sort of exercise program. I would just recommend you go to a healthcare provider that is familiar with that; chiropractor, physical therapists, you know, as such.
If you are interested in speaking with Dr. Chris Serafini, visit www.thescottsdalechiropractor.com or call 480-443-7678 to schedule an appointment.