Poor posture causes aches and pains in joints and muscles. If you have back pain, chances are your posture isn't as great as it could be. Posture, according to the American Chiropractic Association, is how we hold our bodies when we're sitting, standing or laying down. Women may suffer from poor posture due to poor habits, improperly fitted bras leading to an uneven distribution of weight, pregnancy or underlying health problems that cause a shift in how the body is carried. Speak to your doctor or chiropractor about correcting your posture and to rule out any medical causes of improper posture.
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Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, distributing the weight of your body to the balls of your feet. This may feel awkward at first, particularly if you're accustomed to wearing high heels.
Bend your knees slightly and stand up straight and tall, with your shoulders angled backward. This naturally pushes your chest forward and makes it harder for your head to droop, two more factors that can affect the female posture.
Tilt your pelvis slightly forward and tuck your stomach in. Hold your head high. Your earlobes, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should align for proper female posture.
Allow your arms to fall naturally at the sides of your body. Standing with your hands in your front pockets can pull your body forward, leading to slouching.
Test your posture by standing with your back to the wall. Place one hand behind your neck with the palm of your hand facing toward your neck. Place the other hand on your lower back, with your palm facing the wall. Try to wiggle your fingers--if you can do this without problems, you haven't achieved correct posture, notes the American Physical Therapy Association.
Place your feet on the floor. If your chair is too tall to allow this, use a foot rest.
Avoid sinking back in the chair. The American Chiropractic Association recommends keeping a gap between the backs of your knees and the front of your chair. Don't tilt in the chair to accomplish this--correct female posture while sitting has your knees at or below hip level.
Resist the temptation to cross your legs. Keep your ankles in front of your knees to reduce stress. Keep your shoulders held high and relaxed, with your forearms parallel to the ground while using armrests or typing.
Take note of the back support your chair provide. Low and mid-back support are important when sitting, notes the American Chiropractic Association
Angle the top of your head toward the ceiling and tuck your chin slightly, advises MayoClinic.com. Keep computer monitors at or above eye level and take frequent breaks from sitting or working.
Sleep on a mattress that is comfortable to you. The American Chiropractic Association notes that a firm mattress is standard, but softer mattresses are also acceptable.
Support points of stress while you sleep. Use a pillow designed to maintain proper posture during sleep. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your knees. Place a pillow beneath your knees if you sleep on your back.
Don't sleep on your stomach. No part of your body receives support from this position, and using a pillow may misalign your neck, leading to aches and pains.
Rotate your mattress every few months to avoid falling into a rut--literally. Your body makes indentations in your mattress that can lead to poor posture while laying down, advises the American Chiropractic Association.
Keep your head and neck level with your upper back to minimize stress while sleeping.
REFERENCES & RESOURCES
- MayoClinic.com: Posture Check: Do You Stand Up Straight?
- The American Chiropractic Association: Tips to Maintain Good Posture
- The American Chriopractic Association: Good Posture Key To Overall Health
- The American Physical Therapy Association: The Secret of Good Posture Brochure (PDF)
- "For Women Only: Your Guide to Health Empowerment"; Gary Null, Barbara Seaman; 2001
- MayoClinic.com: Prevent Back Pain With Good Posture