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Align Yourself for
Good Health

Written by Vitality Clinician Jamie Monk
The measurement of quality of life is an intensely personal question. Emotional or social aspects vary between individuals and make us fascinating in our differences. In contrast, physical aspects of well-being are more standardised and ubiquitous. The ability to walk, run, jump, and exercise are all things that are likely to have a positive influence on your quality of life. With over 6.5m1 of the UK workforce suffering from some form of musculoskeletal ailment, it is expected that quality of life scores are affected accordingly.

The musculoskeletal system is a complex structure consisting of bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and an array of connective tissues. All of these elements must work harmoniously to give the body its form, structure, stability and facilitate movement. Correct posture is crucial to musculoskeletal health. If you would like to salvage your slump and become an upstanding citizen, stand up straight, and follow these simple tips: 
  • Keep your ears, shoulders, hips and ankles in a vertical line
  • Set your feet to hip-width apart with toes pointing forward
  • Keep your knees straight but not locked with weight distributed evenly on both feet
  • Make sure your spine is erect with your chest out and shoulders relaxed 
  • Simply raising your chin can instantly improve your posture
Good posture does more than allow you to walk around the room with the Oxford Dictionary balanced on your head. Correct alignment allows stress to be suitably distributed to the intended muscles and ligaments.

This enables the muscles to work efficiently without placing excessive force on the joints reducing the risk of injury and degenerative arthritis. In contrast, the effects of improper posture can be debilitating and include headaches, jaw pain, diminished lung function, gastrointestinal distress, fatigue, elevated blood pressure as well as soreness and pain.

Detailed below are some exercises you can do at work and home to loosen those tight muscles and help correct your imbalances. 

Shoulders:
In a standing position, breathe in and lift your shoulders towards your ears. Exhale and draw your shoulders back and down, coaxing your shoulder blades together. 

Chest:
In a standing position, clasp your fingers together behind your tail bone and push your hands together and down. Simultaneously broaden your chest and fronts of the shoulders. If it’s hard for your hands to meet, hold a face towel in your hands to reduce the distance. 

Lower Back:
Lie on your stomach and bring your legs together. Place your hands underneath your shoulders on the floor. Squeeze your elbows against your ribs as you roll your head, collar bones and chest up off the floor.

Core:
Start this exercise on your hands and knees with your back straight. Lift and extend your left arm while you extend your right leg straight back behind you. Hold for 20-30 seconds. Lower arm and leg back to the floor and extend the opposite arm and leg. Keep your arm and leg straight and in one line with your body.

Your stance is key. The best thing you can do to alleviate your muscular woes is to move more. Maintaining a good posture will also project a confident and affable persona and make you feel better about yourself. It’s time to straighten-up, you’ll be amazed to see how the quality of your life can improve.

References:
1 Health and wellbeing at work: a survey of employees, 2014