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How Does Furniture Affect Your Posture?

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Of prime concern to the designers of Sloane and Sons Stylish chairs is the continued comfort of the customer. The way a person sits can adversely impact on proper posture and from this the health of the back and spine.  Even if you believe your posture is excellent, we all likely have ways we can improve how we sit.  In this guide, we explore posture and the ways you can correct your seated position specifically so that you can move through life free from back pain.

What Is Posture?

Your posture is the alignment of your body.  Therefore, to have good posture means that you are correctly aligned and consequently supported by the correct amount of muscle tension.  If you have bad posture, certain parts of your body will be taking the additional load, which can cause aches.  If this continues, you may experience an injury.

How to Improve Posture

If you have correct posture, you will reduce strain on the body during movement.  You will also reduce the wear and tear felt by joints, ligaments and muscles.  You will reduce your chance of injury while improving your spine health.  For those of us who enjoy sports, it can also help with our movement and balance.

So, what work do you need to do?

Your core strength is essential to your posture.  Rather than hold up our body via our levers (our arms and legs) we need to use our abdominal region.  Therefore, any work to improve posture will include core exercises offered in Pilates and yoga classes.  Yoga classes will also encourage you to be conscious of the positioning and alignment of your body. The position of your body is a central focus of each pose and flow movement you will undertake.

However, if you want more straightforward steps to improve your posture, then you should consider keeping your shoulders back and relaxed.  In a high paced world, this is easier said than done, as we hold a lot of our tension in our shoulders.  Therefore, relieving any tightness and being able to relax in this area is an essential step in improving your posture.  Regular massages should help here – if you need an excuse.

You can also work on the way that you stand.  If you keep your feet about hip-distance apart and make sure you balance your weight evenly on both feet.  Most of us have a side that will dominate, and we sometimes have to work against the instinct to lean into this leg.

How to Correct Posture

There are many common posture mistakes.  Each of these misalignments in posture can be fixed.  For instance, a lot of people stick out their bottom.  Due to a pronounced curve in the lower back, this is sometimes referred to as the Donald Duck posture.  This can be a result of wearing high heels or carrying excessive weight, particularly after a pregnancy.  You can correct this postural defect using exercises such as the plank, side-lying leg raises, hip-flexor stretches, standing thigh stretch and other core and bottom strengthening exercises.

To live without a curve to the back can cause equal difficulty.  If you stand with a flat back means your pelvis is tucked under and your shoulders are stooped.  You will likely really struggle to stand for long periods, and it causes significant muscle imbalances that can lead to injury. Exercising the chest and the back – using extension-cased exercises – will help here.

Most of us spent a lot of time in social media hunching.  Everything about our life tends to encourage us to hunch forward – whether it is over our phone or a keyboard at work.  This can lead to a weak upper back and tight chest.  These aches and pains will eventually lead to rounding of the shoulders and shrinking of the next.  Therefore, it is essential to complete seated rows and pull-ups at the gym, as well as taking time to stretch your neck and chest muscles.

What Are the Best Sitting Positions To Improve Posture?

There isn’t a simple answer to this question.  The best sitting position depends on a person’s height, as well as the chair in which they sit.  Advice will also change depending on the activity you are undertaking.  However, some general rules are worth following.

  • You can improve your sitting position by:
  • keeping your feet flat on the floor or the footrest of the chair
  • avoiding crossing your legs, either at the knees or ankles
  • allowing a small space between the back of your knees and the chair
  • positioning your knees and hips at the same height
  • relaxing those shoulders
  • creating an L-shape with your elbows, mainly if typing for long periods
  • keeping your back against the chair or backrest, putting a cushion there is need to support
  • the lower back
  • taking a ten-minute break from sitting every hour you work

However, sitting at a computer for long periods makes it difficult to maintain this posture.  You will need to do more work to prevent injury to your lower back.  When working at the computer for long periods, you should consider improving your sitting posture by:

  • Keeping the monitor at arm’s length and about the height of your natural line of sight. If it needs to be higher than this natural line, then it should be no more than 2 inches.
  • Adding to your workspace, using aids such as footrests, wrist pads and backrests. All these should seek to assist you in holding a good posture.
  • using a standing desk, so you can move from sitting to standing and continue to work without interruption
  • selecting an ergonomic chair
  • using a headrest if dictating for long periods or on a long call
  • remembering to get up and move around before you begin to experience aches and pains – remember those stretches.

It is easy to forget about posture and begin to slump or hunch over.  Therefore, you need to check-in with your body every ten to 15 minutes.  You should seek to become conscious of your posture and make changes if necessary.

If you have a poor posture, it may take some time, commitment and increased awareness to change this.  You will need to make a concerted decision to make changes to the way you sit and stand and to correct yourself when you stray.  As soon as your awareness drops, muscle memory will take you back to the poor posture that causes you problems.  Try setting a low alarm on your phone.  Every 15 minutes there should be a ting from your phone, and you know that you need to assess the position of your body.

Sitting Positions to Avoid

Any sitting position that puts an abnormal load on a single area of the body should be avoided.  A balanced posture, in complete alignment, is the route to a healthy sitting posture.  Therefore, anything that causes an overuse, or misuse, of muscles, tendons or ligaments can be a problem for both posture and back health.

When you are sitting, you need to stop yourself from slumping, with an unnaturally curved back.  You should also avoid bending over to one side with the spine bent.  If you want to take up a relaxed sideways position when watching TV, for instance, bring your feet onto your sofa and keep your spine from curving.

You should also avoid crossing parts of your body or dangling one or both feet, so they are not supported.  This causes problems because weight is being distributed unevenly through the body.  Alternatively, sitting in any position for too long can cause problems – so you need to move.  You should, therefore, program in breaks.

Other Ways to Improve Posture

Sitting, standing and walking with balance and alignment is vital to the maintenance of a good posture.  However, you have other opportunities to improve your posture.  Certain lifestyle choices are linked to your postural health.

One area that will seem obvious is the importance of exercise.  If you undertake moderate exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week, then you will find it easier to maintain a healthy posture.  You should do a mix of stretch, strengthening and aerobic activities.  The need to move is essential for maintaining postural health – even if it means standing up and walking around for 10 minutes out of every 60 minutes.

You would also be surprised how bad our posture becomes when speaking on the telephone.  Therefore, if you are about to go on a long call, you should consider using a hands-free device.  Modern technology puts a strain on our bodies in lots of ways, not just speaking on phones, but texting and social media scrolling.  Therefore, being conscious of sitting up straight when looking at your mobile screens or monitors can help.

When lifting we put our body under undue strain.  Therefore, the appropriate posture becomes even more critical.  You should bend your legs and keep your back straight when lifting.  Then, when carrying, you should keep the load close to your body.

Finally, driving can keep us in an unhealthy posture for long periods.  Therefore, you need to adjust your seat so that your knees are bent, and your back is supported.

How Can A Good Chair Assist Your Posture?

All the advice given about good seated posture is predicated on your choice of chair.  A broken-down chair with poor support can make it impossible to maintain your posture, no matter how hard you try.

Therefore, you need a chair designed with the health of your body in mind.  If you buy a good quality chair, you will find your body is automatically evenly distributed.  Your weight is held uniformly through both hips.  A good chair will allow you to keep your feet bent at the knees at a right-angles and will allow you to keep your feet flat on the floor.

Your chair is essentially a postural prop.  A good chair will invite you to sit in the appropriate way for the continued health of your body.  Designers of quality chairs understand ergonomics and will guide you to relax appropriately.

Summary

Our continued health and wellbeing are predicated on our posture.  Not only can a good posture instil in us a positive sense of confidence, but it can keep us free from aches, pains and injuries.  Our current lifestyle makes the maintenance of a good posture a challenge.  Everything seems to encourage us to slump or to hunch in and over.  We are also more and more sedentary.  All this means we need to be more conscious of our habits.  Are we sitting too long? Are we allowing our shoulders to slope forward and our legs to cross? Through awareness, repositioning and exercise, as well as a good-quality chair, we can take back control of our posture.

Edward Sloane

Edward is the managing director of Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs. He is an expert in quality, comfortable upholstered chairs.

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