Posture is enormously important in our everyday life but it has never been more important than before, during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy our problem areas tend to be our neck, pelvis and upper back.
Being a Pilates & fitness coach, I learnt that a few small tweaks to posture, whether walking, standing, sitting or bending along with the way that you exercise can make all the difference.
Many of us spend hours in front of a computer, phone or laptop. Unfortunately, this is a factor of our modern life. But when we are sitting for hours on end, postural alignment tends to go out of the window.
Below are a few common postural mistakes I see that can cause back pain:
Tortoise neck (cervical lordosis & Dowagers hump):
We all do it! Protrude the chin and head (usually staring at a phone or laptop), which over time can cause the loss of the natural curve of the neck. This places stress and weight on the neck, which can make your body develop more connective tissue and thicken the bones around the area. None of which feels or looks pleasant!
Make sure you take a break whether from your desk, car or PHONE! Try to have your screen at eye level so you are not looking downwards or sticking your head forwards.
A great exercise to lengthen and strengthen the cervical spine, is to make a double chin (not sure we want one of those!) whilst pushing the back of the head against the wall, hold and release. This lengthens & strengthens the cervical spine. It also places the head in its correct position at the top of the spinal column.
Donald Duck bum! (Anterior tilt of the lumbar spine)
Do you stick your bum out?! Many do and it drastically affects your spinal alignment. If your pelvis is out of alignment the rest of you will be! Our bodies find the easiest way to stand, walk or run to avoid using core, glute and hamstring strength. But the result is that the lower spine can be compressed and then cause low back pain.
Align your pelvis….often easier said than done if you are not sure how to. Stand in front of a mirror: the pubic bone and hip bones should ideally be on the same plain. If the pubic bone is behind the hip bones you will stick out that derrière. Aligning your pelvis will lengthen the lower spine into a neutral position, taking the weight out the lumbar spine and transferring it to your glutes and core.
Attention Soldier! (Hyper-lordosis of the spine)
The notion of standing up straight with your shoulders back like a Queen’s Guard (and like my mother use to demand on a regular basis!) is actually not good alignment or posture. In fact, it can cause excessive curvature of the lumbar spine and tightening in the thoracic area of your back. This is generally caused from poor postural alignment due to a weak core and the lower back muscles becoming tight and overactive. This can exasperate when the upper back is in extension, as we try to stand up straight – attention!
As outlined above, look to align your pelvis. Once the pelvis is in neutral you can look to position your upper back correctly. Rather than flaring the ribs in effort to stand up straight, softly draw your ribs down and in, so that they float evenly over the pelvis. Once in this position you should feel a soft connection of the core and glutes. You may feel as though you are falling forward but you will be surprised how this is not the case. To avoid this feeling, align your cervical spine, lengthening upwards and lift the chin so that it is not leaning forward towards the breastbone.
So next time you gasp at your reflection or are slumped in a chair, think about aligning your body!
All niix programmes help to build strength and better posture. If you’re suffering from bad posture or on the journey back to fitness post – baby have a look at some of these exercises to help improve your posture and relieve you aches and pains.