Good Posture for Good Health

By Eve Lees

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Having good posture minimizes stress on your back by keeping your muscles, bones and other supporting parts in their natural position. And having good posture can make your movements more fluid and efficient.

Poor posture, however, can create health problems. It can impede breathing, blood circulation, digestion, organ functions and overall alertness. Slouching creates 10 to 15 times extra and unnecessary pressure on the spinal cord. It can generate neck pain, headaches and limited joint movement. Problems may even result in the legs and feet.

Here are a few tips to help you practice good posture:

* The ears are in line with the tips of the shoulders.
* The shoulders are directly over the hips. Shoulder blades are pulled back.
* The chest and rib cage feels as though they are expanded.
* The back should be straight, with a slight curve in the lower region.
* Distribute your weight evenly along the heels and the outside borders and balls of the feet.
* Change positions often to prevent muscle tension.

While seated and while driving:
* Sit tall with both feet flat on the floor. While driving, adjust the seat to easily reach the pedals and steering wheel.
* Your knees shouldn’t be lower than the level of your hips to ensure lower back comfort.
* Evenly distribute your weight across the hips (get rid of that fat wallet!)
* Use a lumbar support, if you need it, to support the curve in your lower back.
* Keep your head balanced above your shoulders and hips. Position your chair close to the desk to avoid slouching or leaning forward. Hold the head high and shoulders back, to avoid slouching forward as you drive.
* Change positions every 30 minutes to prevent muscle tension. On long drives, stop occasionally to get out of the car and stretch.

* Avoid overly soft mattresses. A firm mattress best supports the natural “S-curve” of the spine.
* Sleep on your back with a pillow under your knees.
* Bend your knees when sleeping on your side, and perhaps place a firm pillow between your knees to maintain proper alignment of your spine and hips.
* Try to use only one pillow under your head.
* Avoid sleeping on your stomach. If you must, avoid using a pillow under your head, and prop a small, flat pillow under your hips to reduce excessive arching of your lower back.




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