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Why not make ‘Improving your Posture’ your New Year’s Resolution?

Physiotherapist & innovator of the PosturePad: Lorna Taylor

For most of us, Christmas involves a little indulgence. We might put on a little weight, avoid the gym and slouch on our sofas watching old films.

“Sitting for long periods of time and bad posture are often linked with lower back pain”.

There are a number of ways to improve your posture including, regular exercise, stretching and improving your home set-up by looking at some of your habits.

Exercise is not only good for your posture but has been associated with reducing the risk of a number of health problems. The NHS doesn’t advise strenuous exercise, in particular for anyone who is new to exercise, has chronic problems such as arthritis, osteoporosis or stress fractures or if you’ve injured your joints, bones or connective tissue without first seeking specialist advice.

Exercise doesn’t have to be intense!

There are a number of exercises, however that are low impact and in recent years, several of these low impact exercises including Pilates and Yoga have become increasingly popular.

According to the NHS, “Pilates focuses on rebalancing the body and improving posture through slow, controlled movements and exercises. Regular practice can help you improve muscle strength and your overall sense of wellbeing”.

The NHS also claim that “Yoga can improve both your physical fitness and your general wellbeing, through a series of postures and breathing exercises. Regular yoga practice helps develop strength, balance and flexibility”. The School of Health and Related Research (ScHARR) at Sheffield University prepared a report with input from the British Wheel of Yoga, (the recognised governing body for Yoga) this year, which included trial of viniyoga and Iyengar yoga. The report summarises trials indicating that “yoga and yoga delivered by British Wheel of Yoga teachers can be effective for chronic low back pain and some of its side effects such as loss of function and depression”.

Prevention is better than a cure!

Did you know that 80% of adults are affected by back pain at some point? As a result, in recent years, workplace ergonomics have been taken more seriously but how much ‘ergonomics’ do you apply at home?

Hunching over your laptop?Do you hunch over your laptop at your dining room table? Elsevier, an academic publishing company of medical and scientific literature published a study several years back as a part of an applied ergonomics journal which assessed the effect of using a laptop docking station configuration compared to just a laptop PC. It investigated how this difference in work set-up affected the mechanical load and subjective evaluation of strain on the neck and your productivity. It concluded that “the use of the laptop station produced on average 24% decrease in the mechanical load on the cervical segment, an average 17% smaller discomfort score and an average 17% higher productivity score when compared to the results from just the laptop PC. The results of the study confirm the importance of adjustable work tools”.

Perhaps it’s time to implement some of these ‘good practice’ measures and simple changes like a laptop stand. For more information on how to set up your workstation, read our blog post: Easy Reach Zone’

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