Posture Awareness Blog – The Commute
Why do we feel more aches and pains in the winter months than the summer?
Through winter, the nights are long and cold weather can affect our posture more than we think. We tend to be less active in the colder months, spending larger amounts of time sitting rather than moving. It’s instinctive to hold ourselves inward, rounding our shoulders, protecting our core from the cold. This is why, to compensate, we wear heavy coats and layers outside to keep warm
We can naturally adopt this kind of posture. We think this posture feels good, safe but in fact this position is quite detrimental to our posture. Rounded shoulders, over extending our back and shoulder muscles, shortened frontal muscles, all contribute to postural aches and pains. Keeping your core warm by wearing a thermal vest or a body warmer can help to reduce the need to huddle over when outside. Stretching your front torso and strengthening back exercises three times a day, will always help towards a healthier posture.
I would like share some of the tips for improving posture in everyday life that I have gathered over the past 10 year of working as a therapist, with clients in my clinic and working with, companies and offices, delivering postural awareness workshops.
Each month I will be discussing what I consider the main factors to good and bad posture and what we can do help ourselves.
- The Commute
- At Work
- Device usage
- Long distance driving
- At home
- Bed time & sleeping positions
- Every day habits
1. The Commute
Many of us commute to work. Using public transport, our own cars and cycling.
According to the Telegraph “In England average commuting time per day has risen from 48 minutes to an hour, and one in seven commuters are now spending two hours or more each day travelling to and from work.”
Depending on how you travel to work, the conditions can be incredibly cramped especially if you are travelling by train or bus. Many of us will seek solace in our phones, books or devices, this of course means that we will be in a sitting position looking down. Sitting for a prolonged amount of time, in a downward stance can influence our posture, including our neck, back, shoulders and frontal muscles.
The Bowling Ball Theory
Your head, on average is the same weight as a bowling ball, which is heavy. If you are leaning or looking down for long periods of time, your neck and shoulder muscles must sustain this weight and must work harder to keep the head in this position, putting extra strain on these muscles. If you are in an upright position, the skeletal system can distribute the weight evenly, with less strain.
If we consider the bowling ball theory on our way to work;
- Limit time on a device.
- Look up, out of the window. Listen to music, POD cast or audio book with head phones instead of using your phone.
- Use head phones to make calls limits time on holding your phone to your ear (helps prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury) in your wrists.
On journeys, if we travel by bus, train or car, we are often sitting in an awkward position we are not aware of. As we take a seat we tend to lead with a leg. In a car’s driver side, we lead with our left. On a bus or train, depending on which side you choose to sit, this could be the left or right.
The leading side we sit on can be at angle where one glute (buttock) is tucked in, causing the hip to be slightly out of alignment. This can put unnecessary strain in the hip and lower back, causing discomfort.
- A simple technique to help align your pelvis; Once sat down, place a hand under the leading leg glute, slightly lift away from the body and adjust yourself so you are sitting equally on both glutes. If you are driving, don’t forget to take your wallet out of your back pocket.
Cycle to work? When we cycle our leg muscles do not quite stretch out to a complete range of movement. Leaning forward on a bike and rounding your shoulders, its like sitting at a computer leaning forward.
- It’s incredibly important to stretch your hamstrings, quadriceps, frontal torso & upper back muscles before & after your cycle into work. Stretching helps to stimulate blood circulation and relieve tension helping to reduce lactic acid build up.
- There are many useful stretching exercises that can be found on sites such as YouTube. Please note; all stretches need to be administered in the correct way, particularly if you have any existing injuries, skeletal or muscle imbalances.
As a remedial massage therapist I teach my clients at my clinic the vital importance of stretching and being mindful of our body and it’s positioning when we are preforming every days tasks
In our Team Pamper Posture Awareness workshops and talks we give practical demonstrations and easy to remember stretch & strengthening techniques that can be adapted to every life.
Next month I will be discussing postural awareness at work.
I hope you have enjoyed this content.
All of my blogs will be featured on my corporate Wellbeing Website Team Pamper