Growing up, most children would be told how to sit, stand, and walk properly. As kids, there is no need for correctly padded running shoes, no need for ergonomic chairs for back pain, simply because as children, we are still adapting to the world. Maybe it is because of the environment, the food, the furniture, but even with all the things we are told, we do what we feel is comfortable. We slouch, we drag our feet, we lean on our side, and we sit at the oddest angles.
This in turn has become a habit, affecting our body alignment, and bringing it back to what is considered as a healthy posture seems unachievable. Executive office chairs could help but if it is not designed as office chairs for back pain, it may not have much effect.
Now, having the wrong body alignment may not matter much especially for the young, however, keeping the wrong posture as we grow older can have adverse effect on our health, and we are not only talking about back pain and fatigue. A misaligned body can also result in respiratory issues, digestive issues and/or headaches.
Can We Fix It?
The simple answer? Yes! With some awareness and with effort put into it, getting your body to re-learn proper body alignment can be achieved. Even if you do not have access to a yoga or pilates instructor, or even a pilates exercise chair, there are ways to set your posture to a healthy stance.
Before we talk about the exercises and techniques, let us learn how to assess the alignment our body is currently in. That way, we would know what to work on.
How to Check Our Own Posture
Here is where your “mirror selfie” skills will come into play. Don’t worry, we are not asking you to post it in social media (unless you want to).
First, in the comfort of your home, wear something that can show your shape, something that will show the symmetry of your stance. Once you have that covered, using a crayon, mark a full length mirror with a vertical line right in the middle, and a horizontal line about the height of your shoulders. Yes, after the assessment, you can erase those lines from your mirror.
Now, you can take several mirror selfies of yourself. On the first one (facing the mirror), the intersection of the cross should be aligned to where your collarbones converge. The second picture (side), the intersection should be on your armpit. You do not need to fix your posture at this point just to get a “good” posture, remember, this is just an assessment.
Guidelines for Proper Posture
Now that you have taken your pictures, you can check how you fare.
For the front facing picture, the vertical guideline should symmetrically intersect your body, head to foot. Shoulders should be even based on the horizontal guideline. Big deviations from these are misalignments that need to be corrected.
For the side-view picture, the correct alignment should be: vertical line should intersect the ear, front armpit, and the rest of the torso, lower legs should be behind the line as the top half of the body should be aligned with the feet for balance.
The Deviations from Proper Alignment
If the vertical line is closer to the rear than the rest of the body, it means that your hips are pressed forward. A lower-crossed syndrome is when your back has an excessive curve, pushing your pelvis and stomach to the front. Rounded shoulders are characterized by shoulders hunched forward and the vertical line aligned to the back of the armpit instead of front. A forward head carriage will be indicated by the ear away from the vertical line and hyperextended neck.
An upper crossed syndrome is a combination of rounded shoulders and forward head carriage. A head tilt will show u where your head is “tilted” to one side. Uneven shoulders will show up more clearly when compared to the horizontal line on the mirror.
If you saw any of the deviations, stretching and strengthening exercises can help you fix them. And to help you fix the alignment of your body, a proper ergonomic chair will be helpful.