Posture is the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture is an easy and very important way to maintain a healthy mind and body. When you practice correct posture, your body is in alignment with itself.
Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing or aggravating episodes of back pain and damaging spinal structures. Being aware of your posture at work, at home, and at play is a vital step towards instilling good posture.
Fortunately, the main factors affecting posture are completely within your ability to control and are not difficult to change. Here are some great tips for a better posture.
How to stand properly?
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees slightly bent and your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward which will simultaneously lift your chest. Bring your chin level, as if a book were on your head, to decrease neck and jaw strain.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body
- Maintain the natural curve in your back and slightly tuck in your stomach. Switch on your core.
- Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.
How do I sit properly?
- Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don't reach the floor. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.
- Don't cross your legs. Crossing the legs can place disproportionate tension on the muscles of the lower back. It's conceivable that habitually sitting with one particular leg crossed might increase susceptibility to lumbar pain or discomfort, and possibly injury over time.
- Avoid leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward or tilting the head.
- Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
- Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support. A lumbar roll, a small pillow or a rolled-up towel wedged in the lower back are effective if the chair has no built-in support.
- Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.
- Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time. Any single position, even a good one, will be tiring. Try to stand, stretch, and walk around every 45 minutes.
What is the proper lying position?
- Find the mattress that is right for you, comfort is important. Get a mattress that is firm and not too soft. The soft mattresses where you sink into may feel nice and comfy initially but is not good for your back/posture.
- Sleep with a pillow under your head just big enough to maintain the normal cervical – neck – curve.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach. This position increases the curve in the lower back and this will aggravate backache.
- Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs to prevent rotation of the lower spine.
While talking on the phone, don’t cradle the phone between your ear and shoulder. That can lock up the spinal joints in the neck and upper back, and cause pain. Instead, hold the phone with your hand or use the speakerphone.
- While watching television or relaxing, don’t use the sofa arm as a pillow. The angle is too sharp for your neck.
- Elevate your monitor. Try to site your monitor high, level with your eye line, so that you are forced to sit upright and with a straight back. Although this will be tiring at first, your body will soon adapt to the position as your core strength improves.
- Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body.
- Avoid holding a book, magazine, or newspaper in such a way that you have to look down to read it. Hold it well up or place it on some pillows on your lap.
- When you lift anything, avoid bending your back with your knees straight. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles.
- Avoid carrying heavy items: Attempting to do so over an extended period of time gradually leads to hunched shoulders and backs. If it’s not possible to reduce the load of things you carry around, you can consider getting a trolley bag or roller bag – these are really convenient and are becoming commonplace.