With bad posture a common cause of pain we look at how standing correctly can help straighten things out

FEW of us give much thought to how we are standing, yet bad posture is one of the most common causes of pain.

NATASHA HARDING looks at the healthiest way to stand.

IT’S ALL IN THE FEET: Standing correctly begins from the ground up.

If your feet are turned out or the distribution of weight is not equal, the rest of your body will be out of sync.

Your feet should be hip-width apart and face forwards, with equal weight felt through all parts of your feet.

With bare feet, stand in front of a full-length mirror and assess the way you stand when you are not thinking about it.

See where your feet naturally want to settle. If they turn out or in, you may want to consider getting orthotic insoles fitted in your shoes.

You can book an appointment with a podiatrist who will assess your gait, or buy them off the shelf in chemists.

KNEES: Many people lock their knees when they stand, which will exacerbate issues with the back and knees. There should always be a slight softness in the knees.

CORE STRENGTH: Weakness in the core is the cause of many bodily aches and pains — especially in the lower back.

And it is often a weak core that makes standing for any length of time so difficult for people.

When standing, it is important to work your core muscles. So engage your pelvic floor muscles (imagine you are trying to stop weeing) then imagine you are pulling a belt a bit too tight.

Ensure you are not squeezing your bum cheeks. They should stay soft so the pelvis remains in a neutral position.

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SHOULDERS: Many of us hold a lot of tension in our shoulders — and it only gets worse with time spent hunched over a desk, phone or steering wheel.

When standing, the shoulders should be back and down. A few shoulder rolls will help you find the best position.

HEAD: An adult head typically weighs 10lb. Too much time spent staring at your phone screen means your head is hanging forward, causing the new ailment “text neck”.

Ideally, your chin should be tucked in. Imagine a bad smell under your nose and you’re doing it right.

When using your phone, try to bring it up to eye level rather than looking down at it.


OSTEOPATH Gary Riley says: “A correct posture not only improves musculoskeletal function and efficacy, it can have a positive impact upon the function of organs such as the heart, lungs and gut.

“More than 90 per cent of back, neck and joint pain sufferers seen in my practice have a postural element to their pain.
“Improving posture can reduce pain and help to prevent future recurrence.
“A correct upright posture creates shock-absorbing capabilities that help to dissipate the effects of impact.
“This can be especially important when you are looking at sport and exercise-related injuries.
“Oxygen is essential for life. The mechanism and efficacy of breathing and ventilation can be significantly compromised by a poor posture.
“Our physical structure and the dynamics of our structure can positively and negatively affect our ability to function on all levels.
“Maintaining a good posture positively affects our physical dynamics and our overall function and wellbeing.”


FROM toe-stretchers to special insoles, here are the best ways available to correct poor posture and stand tall . . .

Yoga is one of the best things you can do for posture and many people seem to “grow” as their spine lengthens and their body changes.

Find a class and try to go at least once a week.

Investing in a decent mat such as this will make a major difference to your yoga.

If your feet have been regularly squashed into shoes, they may be bent out of shape – which will make standing hard.

Toe-stretchers help to improve circulation, straighten bent toes and realign the joints.

They also improve balance, circulation and posture. These are pricey but  made to last a lifetime.

These insoles are tough enough to support men and women who work on their feet all day.

They provide long-lasting, superior cushioning that supports the arches of the feet  – that will relieve not only foot pain but also discomfort in the shin, knee and back.

A brilliant introduction to the Alexander Technique and an invaluable book for all those who wish to attain a better quality of life by fixing the problems of pain and stress linked to bad posture.

Sitting on an exercise ball helps improve your balance and strengthens your core and back muscles.

Get one big enough so your feet are flat on the floor and your legs at a 90-degree angle.

Initially use one for short periods of time, maybe when watching TV.

Once you feel stronger, you will be able to maintain the position for longer.

If drastic action is called for to correct your posture, you might want to consider a shoulder brace.

This will correct round shoulders, relieve upper-back pain and ensure you stand tall and straight at all times.

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