September is back to school month for adults too. This means much more sitting for most people or more standing at lab tables, or other changes in your usual postures. Any prolonged position will cause some soft tissues to tighten up and their counterparts to get over stretched. The key to avoiding chronic aches and pains caused by poor or prolonged postures is to change your position and correct your posture frequently.
The easiest postural correction technique is to imagine your breastbone being attached to the ceiling by a rope or string. Imagine that rope tightening and lifting your breastbone straight up toward the ceiling. It’s simply an elevation of the chest. For most people this will result in your shoulders and head naturally falling in to place.
Good posture is a learned behaviour not an automatic response. Correcting bad posture isn’t always an easy task. I recommend thinking of something that occurs regularly throughout your day and use that as your cue to straighten up. In an office environment some people set a screen saver on their computer to turn on every 15-30 minutes as their reminder. Others choose to correct their posture every time they walk through a door frame. While driving your car or riding a bus you might want to use stop lights or stop signs as your cue. In the classroom you might straighten up every time the professor changes the subject, or every time they turn their back to the class etc. You get the idea. Find something that occurs frequently in your classroom and use that as your cue.
If your back to school experience involves prolonged standing at high desks or lab tables consider using a small footstool to rest one of your feet on. Alternate frequently. This will help take some strain off of your back. A good wellness center offers a wide range of services to help you relax and recharge.
Last but not least do not underestimate the impact of sleep deprivation and dehydration on musculoskeletal health. Both will make your muscles stiff and achy. Drink eight full glasses of water per day and get to bed at a reasonable hour….your body will thank you.