Have any of you been yelled at for slouching when you were a kid? Back then, I thought your posture was about how you looked–like slouching and looking as if you were half asleep and not paying attention in class. At the time, it never occurred to me that bad posture would give me back pain because most kids don’t even think about back pain. But as an adult I’ve realized how important having good posture is.
It’s not just about how you look (although that’s still a part of it). Having good posture means that you’ll be preventing and relieving the fatigue and strain on your body’s ligaments, muscles, and spine. So let’s talk about some ways that you can get into the habit of having good posture when you’re walking and sitting.
To start, find out what good posture looks like when you’re standing. Your body should essentially be a straight line from the top of your head down through your neck, spine, and ankles, with your shoulders set back a little. No need to puff your chest out or tense any muscles.
When you’re sitting, there are some key points you want to look out for. Working from top down:
- Your head should be in line with your spine (same as when you’re standing).
- Head should be neutral with your chin parallel to the ground. So not tilted up or down (like when you’re looking at your phone).
- The top of the monitor you’re facing (if you’re looking at one) should be at eye level.
- Elbows should be bent at a 90 degree angle. (Adjust the seat if needed.)
- If you’re typing on a keyboard, wrists should be straight and relaxed.
- Your hips should be in line with your knees. (For shorter people, this might mean that you need a footrest.)
- Make sure your feet are flat on the ground or on a footrest.
Some people tend to hunch over as they work, which causes a lot of strain on the back, shoulder, and neck, so remind yourself throughout the day to keep your shoulders against the back of the chair and to keep your feet flat on the floor. Maintaining good posture is more about building a habit, so if you need to, set an alarm or something that will help remind you to do posture checks throughout the day.
You should also find exercises and stretches that can help you strengthen muscles to realign your spine. We’ve got plenty of trainers and resources on that end. I’d highly recommend yoga for back pain because it can be a gentle way to strengthen and stretch your back, shoulders, legs, and core, as well as increase your flexibility and mobility.
We generally don’t think about posture, so making sure your posture is correct throughout the day will be a conscious effort, but it is definitely something that you can work on and fix. Just keep at it. Even some improvement is better than no improvement!