Ways to straighten up, improve your posture

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects
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ORLANDO, Fla. - How's your posture right now? Are you sitting up straight or are you slouched over? Poor posture can take a serious toll on your spine, shoulders, hips and knees.

Posture expert Dr. Steven Weiniger says good posture means your, head, torso and pelvis are all stacked over your feet while you stand.

"We label those areas posture zones, and we try to pull posture zones towards center," Weiniger, a posture expert at BodyZone Roswell.

He took a posture picture of Dee Hobbs, which showed her zones aren't as well-aligned as she thought.

"Her pelvis is quite a bit to the left of centerline," Weiniger said.

"I am definitely surprised," Dee Hobbs told Ivanhoe.

With a little work, Dee can improve her posture and so can you. 

"Making people aware of their body is the first thing you need to do to start functionally strengthening their posture," Weiniger said.

Then, Weiniger recommends "BAM-321"—balance three times a day, alignment two times a day and motion once a day. 

To improve balance, lift your leg so your thigh is parallel to the ground while touching a wall. Hold it for five breaths.

For alignment, move side to side while sitting on a balance ball. For motion, try moving forward and backward on the ball.

"You can also feel the difference in your neck while you're doing it," Hobbs said.

To improve posture while you sit at your desk, place your monitor and keyboard right in front of you so your torso doesn't twist.

Also, make sure your hips are higher than your knees while you sit. Choose a chair you can adjust slightly forward or put a pillow on your seat, and remember not to slouch.

Weiniger says kids are more at risk for poor posture today because of tablets, phones, and video games. They often sit in a tense position with their shoulders and lower backs rounding forward while using these devices. He says the best way to help them improve their posture is to take a picture, so they can see just how hunched they are. Also, having kids sit on an exercise ball while they watch TV will help improve their posture. 

Additional Information:

Good posture is something that most people struggle with throughout their life. The benefits of having good posture include a decrease of stress on joints, prevention of straining muscles, and it makes you more attractive. To have proper posture there are a few requirements; for example, sit up in your chair with your back straight and shoulders arched back and have an even distribution of your weight in both hips. (Source: http://my.clevelandclinic.org/healthy_living/back_health/hic_posture_for_a_healthy_back.aspx)

BAD POSTURE: Hunching and slouching affects more than just your appearance. Bad posture also affects your health and well-being. Health problems caused by bad posture include:

  • Headaches/jaw pains:  When you lean your head forward while seated, this may make you more likely to clench your jaw.
  • Shoulder/back pains:  If your bad posture comes in the form of slouching, keeping the shoulders and back hunched over can cause pain and muscle tension.  The same can be true if you try to overcorrect your posture by pulling the shoulders backward.  This can cause you to tense your muscles, leading to pain and stiffness in your back.
  • Reduced lung function: Leaning or hunching forward too much can affect your lung capacity by as much as 30 percent, according to Dr. Rene Cailliet, former director of University of Southern California's Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
  • Gastrointestinal pains: Your stomach and intestines rely on movements known as peristaltic movements to push food through your intestines.  Poor posture can affect that function, meaning your gastrointestinal system may not function as effectively. (Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/437366-health-problems-from-bad-posture/)


HOW TO IMPROVE POSTURE: There are many ways that we can improve our posture. Exercise is one of the most beneficial ways to improve your posture. It will strengthen the muscles surrounding your back, and it will keep your body weight down, which will in turn relieve some of the pressure placed on those muscles. An area to focus on while improving posture is your core. Pilates, yoga, and core strengthening programs that require slow and controlled movements target these muscles to improve core strength. A person should steer clear from heavy lifting and exercises that will strain lower back muscles. Core strengthening exercises should be done at least two to three times a week to see optimal results. Be sure to check with your doctor before performing any exercise regarding posture improvement. (Source: http://www.livestrong.com/article/437366-health-problems-from-bad-posture/)

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