Tags: correct | posture | healthy | slouch

Mom Was Right: Sitting Up Straight Is Good for You

By    |   Thursday, 23 October 2014 06:05 PM

When you were a slouchy teenager, your mother may have admonished you to sit up straight. It turns out that from a medical standpoint she was absolutely right.
 
People with correct posture are less likely to suffer from a multitude of health woes, especially low back pain.
 
“From an evolutionary standpoint we’re supposed to walk with our heads up and look straight forward,” says Michael Gleiber, M.D., a Florida-based orthopedic spine surgeon. ”Unfortunately, modern homo sapiens are rapidly evolving into a new species that might as well be called ‘homo slumpus.
 
Dr. Gleiber tells Newsmax Health more than half of all Americans have bad posture. That puts a strain on the discs, ligaments, and muscles in the neck and spine. It also impairs the circulation of vital nutrients. Over time, this can lead to degenerative disc disease, chronic neck, shoulder, and back pain, and chronic fatigue.
 
Uncorrected poor posture — especially in combination with age-related conditions such as osteoarthritis and osteoporosis — can set you up for kyphosis. This is a condition often seen in the elderly: a forward-tilted head, downcast eyes, rounded shoulders, hunched back, and a shuffling, unsteady gait.
 
Millions of Americans have sedentary jobs and spend long hours hunched over computer screens. Outside of work, sedentary lifestyles keep many people glued to car seats, couches, and recliner chairs.
 
“We contort our bodies so we start to slouch, lean forward, and flex our necks,” says Dr. Gleiber. “Over a long period of time, those small biomechanical changes can cause a tremendous amount of stress on our healthy ligaments and discs. After a while, our bad posture becomes ingrained in our brain and becomes part of our muscle memory.”
 
If you have a desk job, Dr. Gleiber recommends a chair that’s between firm and medium-firm.
 
“You don’t want to sit on something too soft,” he says. “If you sink into a cushion, you’re going to strain your lumbar area, and that’s going to make your posture worse.”
 
Avoid sitting for more than 20 to 30 minutes at a time without getting up and moving. Instead of texting your colleagues down the hall, try delivering your messages in person.
 
When patients ask about the best exercise for promoting posture, Dr. Gleiber’s answer is unequivocal: the shoulder roll.
 
Shoulder rolls can be performed anywhere, seated or standing. Take a slow, deep breath, and count to five seconds while raising your shoulders. Then slowly exhale and count to five seconds while lowering your shoulders. Finish the exercise by squeezing your shoulder blades together as if you were trying to squeeze a ball between them, and count for another five seconds.
 
Dr. Gleiber recommends performing up to 15 shoulder rolls at a time and working up to at least 40 shoulder rolls per day.
 
“Too many is not going to hurt you,” he says.
 
If you’re athletically inclined, and live near a beach, try running on the sand.
 
“It’s one of the best exercises for folks with bad spine problems because it uses more energy and engages more accessory muscles than running on a hard surface,” Dr. Gleiber says. “Since it’s a soft surface, it’s easier on backs and joints.”

The full version of this article appeared in Health Radar newsletter. To read more, click here.
 

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When you were a kid, your mother probably admonished you to sit up straight. It turns out that from a medical standpoint she was absolutely right. People with correct posture are less likely to suffer from a multitude of health woes, especially low back pain.
correct, posture, healthy, slouch
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2014-05-23
Thursday, 23 October 2014 06:05 PM
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