Improving Your Posture

If your posture isn't correct when you are standing, sitting, walking, and lifting objects, you may be putting added pressures on your back and causing yourself to have back pain. Your back, when healthy, is designed to support the weight of your body as you sit, stand, and move, provided that these loads are not excessive and are distributed evenly throughout your back. People may begin to feel discomfort in their backs if they gain weight, or display certain back postural habits such as slouching in their chairs, leaning back in their chairs, and not standing up straight. These types of postural habits may put excessive pressure on the lower lumbar bones and discs of the back, or the ligaments that support the spine. Some signs of bad posture include uneven wear patterns in the soles of your shoes and visible misalignments of your body when standing. Visible body misalignments may include one shoulder that is higher than the other and feet that are not flat against the ground when standing.

If there are signs that you may have a problem with your posture, then you will need to make changes in your work or home environment, and you will need to become more mindful of your own body mechanics as sit, stand, walk, and move objects. It is never too late to make improvements to your body mechanics so that you can train yourself to have a better posture. If you are unsure of what an ideal posture looks like. Google images of the spine, and imagine the position of your own spine as you do all your waking activities. When sitting, you will want to assume a position that keeps your spine in this alignment. Here are some techniques to follow to keep your spine in its ideal alignment. When the spine is in the proper alignment, it is very strong, and can absorb the stresses of nearly anything you throw at it, including long periods of sitting and standing, and lifting moderately heavy objects.

When Standing
  • Stand relatively straight, with your weight distributed equally through both feet. This may be somewhat difficult for some patients with conditions such as sciatica.
  • Keep your back straight by tightening your stomach muscles and buttocks and doing a pelvic tilt.
  • If your job or other responsibilities require you to stand for long periods of time, you should wear flat or low-heeled shoes.
  • Place one foot on a footstool to ease tension on your back.

When Sitting
  • To maintain the proper curve in throughout your back, your back should be flush against the back part of the chair, and you should keep your stomach muscles in. Your entire body should be at right angles. Your straight back should turn 90 degrees to your legs at the hips, and your thigh should turn at a 90 degree angle to your lower leg at the knee. Your feet should be flat against the ground.
  • When sitting, you may want to place a small cushion behind your lower back to maintain the natural curve of the back.
  • Though a healthy back in a good posture can sustain a considerable amount of time in the seated position, there are limits. In general, it is not good to sit for long periods of time. At least once per hour, take the time to stand up and walk around to loosen up tight muscles and give them a chance to relax.