THE IMPORTANCE OF AN ALIGNED POSTURE
There is a mass of guidance ,information and opinion on what constitutes ‘good’ posture! However to keep things simple, my observation is that aligning, protecting and balancing how we hold our spine is of key importance.
Here are a few thoughts ...
PROTECTING THE SPINE - THE THREE CURVES
The most important, and easily remembered piece of advice I can give is to become familiar with the 3 curves of your own spine, and maintain and protect these curves when you SIT , STAND , OR LIE.
The curves are
CONCAVE - at the low back . This is called the lumbar lordosis.
CONVEX - slightly, at the mid back , or thoracic area, and
CONCAVE - at the level of the neck or cervical spine.
Keeping your spine aligned from side to side, and keeping the curves in their natural shape is a good way to help protect your spine, and will help you move in a more graceful and less restricted way.
Some key postural tips:
SITTING - aim to maintain the concave curve in your low back , This helps to keep the whole spine comfortable, and also stops the neck from jutting forward. Aim to have your weight balanced and centralised on both sitting bones, imagining that from this base , your spine can lengthen upwards.
LYING on your back - take care not to have your neck pushed forward with too many pillows. Pillows can be a major source of difficulty for people. I once met a woman with forty pillows in her wardrobe, since she had never found a comfortable one! There are many expensive, shaped pillows on the market.
Yet we are all very different shapes and so a moulded pillow is unlikely to be exactly right for all of us! Some people report that memory foam pillows have worked for them. I find that a lightly stuffed feather pillow moulds nicely around my neck. For me one is enough and maintains the alignment of my neck...it will be different for everyone. If you have breathing problems you may well need more than one pillow, and a stack of pillows in a wedge might work best.
Check that your mattress is supportive. The idea that firm mattresses are best for people with low back pain is not entirely true, and it is best to try lining on a mattress in the shop for a while before you buy, to check that it supports you and doesn't over arch your lumbar lordosis.
LYING on your side - usually this needs two pillow so that your head is neither pushed up in an awkward angle, or dropping of to the side.
LYING on your tummy - very stressful on your neck! Try training yourself not to sleep like this!
STANDING - there is a host of factors which will influence your ability to align your standing posture. You may have an increased lumbar lordosis, which is sometimes due to tight muscles at the front of your hips. You may have a flattened lordosis, as a result of tight hamstring muscles at the back of your thighs. There may be small differences in your leg lengths. Commonly, people hold their chin forward in a protruding neck posture which can contribute to neck pain and headaches.
By beginning to notice your unhelpful postural habits, practising and visualising a more aligned stance, your alignment can begin to shift and improve.
I have recorded a short posture awareness meditation to help you!
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