Now that I’m in my forties I really understand the importance of proper posture. Unfortunately this knowledge has come to me because my posture is not what I wish it was. I am not alone though. Lower back pain is the single leading cause of disability worldwide. Each year over 11 million Canadians suffer from at least one musculoskeletal (MSK) condition. This accounts for one-third of all missed days of work, second only to the common cold!
Many MSK problems are caused by poor posture, a common result from spending more time sitting than standing and consistently being hunched over a mobile device. Sitting puts 30 per cent more stress on your back than standing or walking, so taking an afternoon break from your desk can make a dramatic difference to your posture, and help improve your overall health.
Years of slouching and leaning and sitting at a computer have caught up with me and now I need to focus on repairing the damage I’ve done. The ‘Straighten Up Canada’ app is just the tool for the job.
This free app guides users through exercises aimed to improve posture and reduce the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder. When evaluated, study participants who practiced Straighten Up daily for at least five weeks reported improved posture, strengthened core muscles, and less back pain when sitting.
Here are five reasons why posture is so important:
- Reduces wear and tear: Having a balanced spine decreases the amount of stress and pressure on your joints, reducing the risk of wear and tear that can result in a limited range of motion or arthritis.
- Breathe Easy: By avoiding slouching and sitting up straight you are helping to open your airways and increase oxygen flow throughout your body.
- Decreases Stress: Since stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense, stretching those muscles reverses the tension and the related stress.
- Increases Energy: Slouching puts many of your muscles into overdrive as they work to hold you up, wearing your body out. Proper posture enables the body’s most efficient position, saving energy.
- Be Better: Standing up straight with your shoulders back gives you the appearance of being taller and slimmer, making you feel more confident.
For me, the above reasons are important of course, but I also want to be free from back pain so that I can run and play with my children. I don’t want back pain to interfere with my daily life and I don’t want to rely on pain medication to get me through the day. I have started using the app and it’s already making a difference in how I sit and stand. The Straighten Up Canada app is broken down into four sections: Exercise, Track, Know Your Back and Find a Chiro.
I really like the exercise section. There is a large variety of exercises and they are all demonstrated in videos so that you know exactly how to perform each one. There are exercises for adults and youth. To use the track feature you just record the exercise you have done or set a reminder so you don’t forget to do it. The “Know Your Back” section of the app explains the different areas you can experience back pain and explains what could be causing them. Finally, the Find a Chiro feature will obviously help you locate a chiropractor.
I find it useful to set reminders on the app each day so that I not only remember to do the exercises, but I also will remember to be thinking about my posture and how I am sitting. I spend a lot of time sitting at a computer and it is important to maintain proper posture while working.
Even though this is a free app that you can start enjoying immediately, one of my lucky readers can win a $50 iTunes gift card!