Keeping your shoulders down by maintaining good posture when sitting and standing stabilises your entire body. However, we tend to raise our shoulders when tired or working in a sitting position for a prolonged period of time. Raising your shoulders tenses the muscles in your shoulders and back and is the most common cause of shoulder pain. Maintain good posture not only to keep your shoulders down, but also to prevent injury; strain on muscles, joints and ligaments; and back, neck and shoulder pain.
Maintain a Proper Sitting Posture
Focusing on your sitting posture is especially important if you work at a job that requires you to sit at a desk for prolonged periods of time. Keep your neck straight and your head straight up over your neck so that your ears are directly over your shoulders. Keep your shoulders down and back by rotating or shrugging your shoulders every so often to relax tense muscles. Keep your spine neutral by slightly contracting your core, or abdominal, muscles. Maintain a small curve at the base of your spine by keeping your hip bones level and sitting forward in your seat rather than relying on the back of your chair for support. Keep your feet flat on the floor, shoulder-width apart and pointed forward with your knees bent at a 90-degree angle at hip level. Avoid crossing your legs, which can cause misalignment of the pelvis and spine. You should also avoid staying in a seated position for too long by getting up and walking around for a few minutes every hour or so.
Maintain a Proper Standing Posture
To maintain proper posture while standing, stand up straight, pull your shoulders down and back, lift your chest, tuck in your stomach and slightly contract your glutes. Keep your weight on the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent and feet shoulder-width apart. Avoid pushing your head and neck forward, backward or to the side. Keep your head straight up so that your ears are directly over your shoulders.
Maintain a Proper Lying Position
Posture may be the last thing you think about when you're lying down, but a proper lying position will also help you relieve and prevent neck, shoulder and back pain. First and foremost, make sure that you sleep on a mattress that is most comfortable for you, as the firmness or softness of your mattress makes a huge difference when it come to reducing and preventing back pain. Lie on your side or back rather than on your stomach. To keep your spine, joints and body aligned, place a pillow between your knees when lying on your side or under your knees when lying on your back.
Stretch Your Back and Shoulders
Take a few minutes each day to stretch your back, spine and shoulders to improve your posture and relax tense muscles. Relax your shoulders by stretching your right ear toward your right shoulder and repeat on the left side. Keeping your neck straight and head up, rotate or shrug your shoulders a few times to relieve tension and to keep your shoulders down. To stretch your upper back, reach your arms out in front of you, link your fingers together and push your palms away from your body. To stretch your back and spine, perform the same movement but with your arms up over your head. To get a full back stretch, lie on your back on the floor with your knees bent, feet flat, arms out to your sides and palms faced down. Keeping both shoulder blades in contact with the floor, drop your knees to the right and turn your head to the left, and repeat on the left side.
Practice Yoga or Pilates
Incorporate yoga and Pilates into your workout regimen to improve your posture and strengthen your core. Yoga helps improve posture by relieving tense muscles and improving muscle and joint flexibility. Pilates strengthens your core muscles, which are the muscles you rely on the most for maintaining good posture and for supporting and protecting your body during movement. You can also strengthen your core with a simple abdominal exercise. While standing or sitting, inhale through your diaphragm, or your stomach. When you exhale, slowly count to five while pulling your abs up and in, as if pulling your belly button towards your spine.
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