One of the greatest causes of back pain in our Western societies is the amount of sitting we do every day, and the way we sit, out of alignment or slouching. I realise that sitting straight is not cool; it is less relaxing and may look uptight. However, there are so many negative side effects from slouching, that it is essential to include a good sitting posture in our self-care programme. Reducing slouching habits can have a positive effect on our breathing, digestion, mood, energy and back health!
Not many people find long periods of standing easy. If you have to stand while listening to a long speech, for example, does your back start aching? Pain and muscle strain arise when the body is not aligned with and hence not served by the line of gravity. When we manage to find this straight downward pull, standing becomes more natural and effortless. It can make us experience a deep sense of peace. This blog considers two common types of misalignment that make long standing harder.
Posture and habitual movement patterns contribute hugely to back health. The way you walk, stand, sit or sleep can influence whether you develop back pain or not. My four blogs this summer will analyse different elements of posture, and how posture relates to managing and preventing back pain. After all, doing yoga once a week is not enough if during the rest of the week you slouch on a sofa or car seat, round your shoulders forward over a computer, or stand out of alignment so your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright. Together with the right exercises, this focus on postural habits can hopefully help you correct bad posture and shape lifelong, sustainable wellbeing. This first blog in the series focuses on good walking habits.
Unless we keep our spine mobile, moving it through its full range of movement, which includes twisting, sideways extensions, forward and back bends, the upper spine may tighten and round forward with age. This is even more so when our work demands long hours of focusing forward and down over a desk, workbench or computer. There are many ways to counter a tight upper back, but the yoga crocodile rest is easy, effective and soothing.