Posture is the position in which a person holds their body when standing or sitting, and improper posture can negatively affect many aspects of health. Learning good posture involves a significant amount of effort, in most cases, as it requires unlearning bad habits. However, the benefits can improve long-term health and eliminate potential sources of pain and injury.
While standing, a few tips that can ensure proper posture. Primarily, the body’s weight should bear on the balls of the feet. Knees should be slightly bent, and feet should be shoulder-width apart. When the navel is drawn toward the spine, the shoulders should naturally pull backward. If a person has to stand for long periods, they should gently shift their weight from the toes to the heels or from one foot to the other.
In addition to being mindful of the torso and below, maintaining correct standing posture also means paying attention to the chin, head, and neck position. The head should remain level at all times. At no point should a person be shifting their head forward, backward, or to the side. The earlobes should remain in line with the shoulders.
To sit with a healthy posture, keep both feet on the floor or a footrest. While sitting, the legs should never cross and the ankles should remain in front of the knees. Additionally, there should be a slight gap between the seat of the chair and the back of the knees. To support the back, lean against a chair and ensure the backrest is making contact with the lower and middle back. In many chairs, the upper back will not make contact with the chair. Keep the shoulders loose and the forearms parallel to the ground.
Many people refer to maintaining a proper standing posture as “standing up straight.” This is somewhat of a misnomer because it is incredibly unhealthy to stand completely straight. Additionally, locking the knees to keep the legs straight puts excess stress on the ligaments while also adding to the pressure the shin and heel must carry. It is also impossible to keep the back straight because the spine has three signature curves that help it support the body’s weight.
Having good posture while standing or sitting keeps the bones and joints in alignments that allow them to provide stability. This also reduces the wear and tear that leads to conditions like arthritis. Proper posture can prevent muscle overuse, which lowers the risk of muscle strain, pain, and injury.
Just as practicing correct posture provides benefits, poor posture can cause significant harm. Poor posture wears on the body, making injuries more likely and causing pain. It can also impact how well the joints move, decreasing overall flexibility. Depending on how long poor posture continues, it may begin to affect a person's balance and increase their risk of falling. Poor posture can even make it harder to breathe or digest food.
Whether for recreational purposes or work, it is common for modern people to spend over eight hours a day sitting at a computer desk. Both sitting for this long and using a computer promote poor posture, which curves the upper back, an issue that can become permanent. Some studies indicate that poor posture during computer-based work leads to balance issues in healthy adults. Another study suggests it may affect a person’s proprioception, their ability to sense where their body is in relation to itself and its surroundings.
Long-standing posture issues can take a long time to address, but performing basic actions that promote healthy posture can help. Never sit or stand in a single position for long periods. Stay mindful of good posture during common activities. Avoiding high-heeled or otherwise uncomfortable shoes can also help improve posture. Additionally, extra weight can weaken muscles like the abdominals, which then harms posture.
In addition to the basic ways of improving posture, many exercises strengthen the muscles responsible for supporting the body. Yoga poses, such as cat-cow and child’s pose, simultaneously build strength while reducing tension. Plank pose helps develop the back and abdominal muscles.
More muscles affect posture than most people realize. The core muscles provide much of the support. This includes the rectus abdominis, oblique muscles, and the transverse abdominal muscle. Many of the pelvic muscles are also responsible for ideal posture, including the iliacus and psoas muscles. Shoulder muscles like the trapezius play a role, as well.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.