Your health: Back track
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Doing simple exercises while sitting in a chair can help improve your posture and fend off back pain.
Posture and pain
Most of us get back pain at some point in our lives. It may be due to a sports-related injury, an accident, or a congenital condition such as scoliosis.
But most of the time, upper or lower back pain develops during the course of day-to-day life, says Harvard Medical School.
Fortunately, there's a lot we can do to prevent this sort of problem. General physical fitness and a healthy weight are important. But one surprisingly simple strategy can go a long way: Paying attention to your posture.
You can improve your posture by practicing some imagery and a few easy exercises.
Imagery. Think of a straight line passing through your body from ceiling to floor (your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles should be even and line up vertically). Now imagine that a strong cord attached to your breastbone is pulling your chest and rib cage upward, making you taller. Try to hold your pelvis level — don't allow the lower back to sway.
Think of stretching your head toward the ceiling, increasing the space between your rib cage and pelvis. Picture yourself as a ballerina or ice skater rather than a soldier at attention.
Shoulder blade squeeze. Sit up straight in a chair with your hands resting on your thighs. Keep your shoulders down and your chin level. Slowly draw your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
Upper-body stretch. Stand facing a corner with your arms raised, hands flat against the walls, elbows at shoulder height. Place one foot ahead of the other. Bending your forward knee, exhale as you lean your body toward the corner.
Keep your back straight and your chest and head up. You should feel a nice stretch across your chest. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds.
Arm-across-chest stretch. Raise your right arm to shoulder level in front of you and bend the arm at the elbow, keeping the forearm parallel to the floor.
Grasp the right elbow with your left hand and gently pull it across your chest so that you feel a stretch in the upper arm and shoulder on the right side.
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