Slumping in front of our computers as we work. Slouching on the couch at home. Hunched over the wheel as we drive. We are full of bad back habits! If like most of us you find yourself constantly having to straighten your spine and put your shoulders back, there are a few other things you should know. Working to improve your posture requires a lot more than just sitting up better.
There are a few tiny tweaks that add up over time, helping you improve your posture long-term. Physiotherapist Phil Evans points out four bad habits that you may not have even thought of. Be mindful with these four and the rest will come. Here’s Phil’s advice.
Ditch the slippers
‘High heels, sandals, flip-flops and flat trainers all add stress to you spine,’ says Phil. But here’s the catch: ‘the same goes for bare feet and slippers. Without cushioned footwear, your back takes the impact every time your foot lands on the floor.’ Treat your feet well and you’ll be giving your back a break too. Phil recommends wearing well-fitted shoes with good cushioning. Visited a reputable sneaker store to help you find a good fit, you will definitely notice the difference!
Some say sitting is the new smoking. ‘Sitting multiplies the pressure on your spine 10 times more than standing,’ notes Phil. ‘If you have to sit for long periods, get up every 20 minutes to wake up your body.’ To help, swap your water bottle with a small glass. Every time it runs out you will be reminded to get up and move as you refill it.
Limit reading in bed
We know there’s nothing better than being curled up with a page-turner in bed. Unfortunately it may be ruining the work you are putting in to improve your posture. ‘Avoid it for any more than 20 minutes at a time because your head is looking forwards and down,’ says Phil. Why is this a bad thing? It ‘increases tension in your neck and back muscles. Worse, at this late time of day, your muscles are already tired, so placing them under even more pressure will increase tension.’
Avoid bags that hang off one shoulder
According to research by Vapestick, the weight of the average woman’s handbag is 2.5kg. That is the same weight as a small dog! But not only should we be mindful of what is going in our bags – and limit it! – the type of bag you use can dampen hopes of improved posture. ‘Carrying a bag on one side adds tension to your neck,’ says Phil, because the weight isn’t evenly distributed. You could end up with a curvature of the spine as that side is working harder, making you look older than your years.’ But there is no excuse to not be fashionable and improve your posture. Stylish backpacks and more practical designs are all in right now.