Your health: Turn good posture into less back pain

  • Paying attention to your posture throughout the day may help reduce back pain.

    Paying attention to your posture throughout the day may help reduce back pain. Daily Herald file photo

Posted8/23/2015 7:15 AM

Turn good posture into less back pain

Most of us get back pain at some point in our lives.


One surprisingly simple strategy can go a long way to alleviating back pain: Paying attention to your posture.

Harvard Medical School gives these imagery and exercise tips to improve your posture:

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.

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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. Hold for a count of five; relax. Repeat three or four times.

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 20-30 seconds. Relax.

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. Hold for 20 seconds; relax both arms. Repeat to the other side. Repeat three times on each side.

Playing Tetris can help ease cravings

Playing the block-stacking video game Tetris can ease cravings for food and drugs by about one-fifth, researchers found in a study of people in natural settings outside a laboratory, UPI reports.


Previous research had found that Tetris effectively reduced cravings in a lab setting. Most studies also were focused on food cravings, but researchers from Plymouth University and Queensland University of Technology found the method to be effective for smoking, alcohol, coffee, sex and sleeping, as well.

"We think the Tetris effect happens because craving involves imagining the experience of consuming a particular substance or indulging in a particular activity," said Dr. Jackie Andrade, a professor of psychology at Plymouth University. "Playing a visually interesting game like Tetris occupies the mental processes that support that imagery -- it is hard to imagine something vividly and play Tetris at the same time."

Researchers recruited 31 undergraduate students between the ages of 18 and 27, giving them iPods with the game Tetris and texting each of them seven times per day to report on cravings they had. Participants also were encouraged to self-report cravings throughout the day.

Half the group was advised to play Tetris for three minutes at a time when they had cravings and then report back to the researchers, leaving the other half as a control group.

Cravings were reported about 30 percent of the time, generally for food and nonalcoholic drinks, making up two-thirds of the cravings participants had. Cravings for things considered to be drugs -- cigarettes, coffee, wine and beer -- were reported 21 percent of the time. The rest of the cravings were for miscellaneous activities such as sex, sleeping, playing video games or socializing.

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