Posture pointers and pitfalls
We've been told to stand up straight as long as we've been able to stand, but sometimes it's harder than it seems.
We know why we should do it: Good posture looks good, feels good and makes us look slimmer. On the flip side, studies have linked poor posture with lower self-esteem, depression and back pain.
But, sometimes, posture pointers are confusing.
Remember when we were all supposed to use Pilates balls instead of office chairs? Well, claims that doing so improved posture were recently disputed by researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario. They found that it didn't help — or hurt — posture.
But there are still some things you can do to help your stance, as well as some things you can avoid to keep it from getting worse.
Reposition your monitor: Your monitor should be 1 to 2 feet away from your face, and your eyes should be level with the top of the monitor, said Janice Novak, author of “Posture, Get It Straight! Look Ten Years Younger, Ten Pounds Thinner and Feel Better Than Ever.” This will prevent your head from leaning forward and away from your shoulders.
Reposition yourself in your car while driving: Move your seat close enough to the pedals so that your knees are bent. A 90-degree angle would be too bent, and anything more than 130 degrees would be too straight. (Make sure your body is at least 13 inches away from the steering wheel in case your air bag deploys.) Your lower back should be against the back of the seat. Sit in an upright or slightly reclining position. Adjust the headrest so your head is actually resting against it. This position places your head directly over your spine and allows your neck and upper back muscles to relax while you drive, Novak said. Finally, when holding the steering wheel, your elbows should be bent at 120 degrees.
Strengthen your core muscles through exercise: Do three sets of basic and side planks daily, holding each pose for 30 seconds, said Dr. Levi Harrison, orthopedic surgeon in Los Angeles and author of “The Art of Fitness: A Journey to Self Enhancement.” Start in a pushup position with your arms directly under your shoulders (you may bend your arms if necessary) for the center plank. Keep your head aligned with your neck. After 30 seconds, turn to one side by lifting your left arm and stacking your body over your right leg, keeping your right arm extended on the ground. You may bend your right arm if necessary. Then switch sides.
High heels: Heels higher than 1 inch increase your sway backward, which can lead to lower back discomfort, Novak said. Your foot slides to the front of the shoe, which puts too much pressure on the ball of the foot and your toes. High heels also shorten the muscles and tendons on the back of your ankle, and stretch and weaken the muscles on the front of your ankle, which can lead to shin splints. Heels on shoes also get in the way of the natural stride, which is to place your heel down first, then roll through the ball of your foot. If you must wear heels, don't wear them for longer than four hours at a time.
Soft couches: You should not be able to sink into a couch, Mary Ann Wilmarth, chief of physical therapy at Harvard University, said. “It needs to be firm enough to give you support.” If your couch doesn't support your lower back, you can use extra pillows to assist it.
Danielle Braff is a staff writer for Chicago Tribune.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Etna struggles with high commercial vacancy rates
- Daily Courier roundup: Greensburg Salem tops Uniontown in nonconference game
- Clairton runs past Leechburg for PIAA record
- Toyota Yaris adds French flair for ’15
- Motoring Q&A: ‘Check engine’ light doesn’t reset itself
- Critics claim state Attorney General Kane puts politics first
- Connellsville reaches playoff despite blowout loss
- After sluggish 1st half, McKeesport rolls past Kiski Area
- Protestants preparing for Reformation Sunday observances; Protestants, Catholics plan for 2017
- Lower Burrell man charged with shoplifting
- WPIAL football playoff clinchings