Recent research (some conducted right here at UNC!) has shown that sitting for long periods of time can be detrimental to your health, and that using laptops can cause wrist, shoulder and neck problems that can lead to headaches and other issues. Studies also show that generally poor posture can be linked to chronic back pain and can cause long term spinal damage down the road.
On the other side, good posture helps you look and feel as amazing as you truly are!
I know, I know it’s really hard to concentrate on sitting up straight when there is a huge paper due tomorrow, and sometimes it just feels good to slouch down on the couch and chill out while watching the latest episode of your favorite tv show. And there’s a reason for this: your body is trained to believe that your not-so-great way of sitting or standing is “normal” so anything that isn’t that (i.e. sitting up straight) feels uncomfortable because your muscles aren’t trained to keep your torso supported in that manner. Essentially, “you become molded into the position you are most often in”, which, for many people nowadays (especially college students) is sitting. I’ll admit, even as I’m writing this blog I caught myself sliding back into my “normal” hunched pose at my desk.
So how can we change those bad habits into good ones and give our backs a break?
Here’s a few helpful tips I to improve your posture:
- Know what “good posture” means- go here to find out what good posture looks like!
- De- Stress! Poor posture is partially a result of tense muscles in your head, neck, and back. Taking time to detress can help relieve this tension, opening up (literally) your back to healthier habits.
- Exercise- strengthening your core muscles helps make good posture easier. Taking classes, such as Pilates, that focus on core muscles helps develop these key areas. Stretching also helps. Here’s a site with some easy exercises you can even do in the residence hall: http://www.ergonomics.ucla.edu/ex_posture.html
- Take breaks- Get up from the couch, your desk, etc. and move around to alleviate tension on your back, and neck. If possible, do this every 20-30 minutes to avoid getting “stuck” in one position.
- Stay hydrated– Proper hydration helps keep your joints (especially those in your spine) lubricated.
- Stay supported- use a pillow or rolled up towel to support your lower back when you are sitting for long periods of time at a desk or in the car. This helps maintain and support the natural curvature of your spine. Also, if you can, choose chairs that are designed to support your back and can be adjusted for maximum support.
- Be patient!Developing new habits (and getting rid of old ones) takes time! Don’t be surprised if, like me, you catch yourself back in your old slouch. One way to do this is to put a sticker, sign, etc. on your computer or near your desk that reminds you to watch your posture.