As a physical therapist, two of the most common questions I get are “how did I get like this?” and “why am I not getting better faster?”
My answer to both involves some series of questioning about posture outside of the PT clinic and a gentle reminder that coming 1-3x/week for an hour session is only 1-3 hours of a 168-hour week. While coming to PT consistently, making sure one’s body is aligned with myofascial release or some other manual technique, and stabilizing said alignment is immensely important, what’s even more important is what the patient does outside of the clinic. If a patient leaves “aligned”, but then sits with legs crossed, carries that insanely heavy bottomless bag, slouches while driving or sitting at work, etc, etc… guess what… alignment kind of goes out the window. Fortunately, there are some little things we can do throughout the day to keep us as “in check” as possible.
#1 – Sit at the very back of your chair, so you can stack your spine nicely up against the back of the chair. Be sure not to cross your legs, because it causes the pelvis to be out of alignment. If you need to cross your legs, just make sure to switch legs every so often.
#2 – If you carry a heavy bag (or a thick wallet), be sure to switch sides. Using your bag on the opposite shoulder will help keep you more aligned vs. always slouching to one side. Men, switching the side of your wallet is just as important, so that you’re not always sitting lop sided to one side.
#3 – Do daily activities with the opposite side. If you always reach up into the cabinet with the right arm, try reaching for something with your left arm – switch it up a bit, give the muscles you use all the time a break, and strengthen the ones you don’t use as much.
#4 – Do a quick posture scan. Stand in front of a mirror and really look at yourself. See if you look like you’re shrugging on one side or the other, see if your pelvis looks crooked, see if your head is tilted to one side or the other. If you notice that you’re off, see what you can do to level out. The more time you spend in “neutral” the more your body will learn what “neutral” is.
These are just a few tips that can go a long way in keeping you level if you do them daily and commit to good posture.
Alix Terpos PT, DPT