Posture 101

Back and neck pain will afflict nearly 80 percent of Americans at some point in their lifetime. The spine doctors at Sports Medicine North say one of the most common causes of that pain is poor posture.

The following tips will keep you aligned, help improve your posture, and reduce your chances of suffering from back pain later in life:

Strengthen supporting muscles. The spine is supported by two large muscle groups: the core, or abdomen, and the paraspinal, or muscles that run from the neck down the length of the spine. Keeping these muscle groups strong, through exercises such as crunches and sit-ups (for the core) and walking, running, and spinning (for the paraspinal group), will help to support the spine and improve posture.

Align your body. A majority of a person's day is spent standing or sitting, so great emphasis should be put on proper posture. Keeping your hips in line with your back and standing tall will improve your posture and reduce your risk of experiencing pain in the years to come.

Remember ergonomics. Like most people, you probably sit for many hours at a time. Putting something soft in the natural curves of the back for added support can help improve your posture while sitting. Sitting relatively upright and avoiding leaning forward for long periods of time will also help.

For women in particular, good posture is very important. Strengthening the core and paraspinal muscles can mean less problematic pregnancies and labor.

For more information on the treatment and prevention of back pain, call Sports Medicine North at (978) 309-3066.