How to Maintain Proper Posture

What can I do to improve my posture?

Whether we make the effort to maintain good posture or not, we do know that it is important. It does not take much research or study to realize that poor posture habits can only lead to the increased likelihood of back pain, injury, lessened mobility and even serious health consequences, like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

There is a long list of factors that contribute to poor posture. Some of these are stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles and abnormally tight muscles. Others include poor work environments, improper sitting and standing habits, decreased flexibility and wearing high-heeled shoes.

Fortunately, poor habits can be replaced by good ones when it comes to posture, just like with other areas of life. For those of us who have been practicing improper body positioning for a long time, our joints have adapted to those positions, and it will take longer to correct. However, with consistent practice employing the correct posture while standing, sitting and lying down, those old habits can be replaced.

Sitting Posture Suggestions

  • Back should be straight and shoulders pulled back, buttocks touching the back of the chair.
  • Body weight should be distributed evenly on both hips.
  • Keep knees bent at a right angle and slightly higher than hips.
  • Do not cross legs (use a foot stool if necessary).
  • Keep feet flat on the floor.
  • Change positions to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
  • When sitting at a desk, adjust chair and desk height so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest elbows and arms on chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.

Standing Posture Suggestions

  • Weight should be placed primarily on the balls of the feet.
  • Knees should not be locked but, instead, should be kept slightly bent.
  • Align feet with shoulders and keep them roughly shoulder-width apart.
  • Allow arms to fall naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Do not slouch: stand straight and tall with shoulders pulled back.
  • Pull the stomach in.
  • Balance the head so that the muscles of the neck are not pulling it forward or to the rear.
  • When standing for extended periods of time, shift weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other.

Posture Suggestions for Lying Down

  • Mattress choice should be based on what is most comfortable for the individual. A firm mattress is often recommended, but that is not necessarily the best choice for everyone. Just make sure that it does not sag. Comfort is the deciding factor.
  • Sleep with a pillow. It should be under the head, not shoulders and should not be so thick as to push the head out of a normal position Special pillows are available to correct chronic problems. Consult your physician for specific guidance.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach because this can create back and neck strain.
  • If you must sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs.┬áIf you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, our physicians are committed to more than just treating your symptoms. We strongly believe that each individual is best served through an integrative treatment plan. We focus on finding the underlying cause and providing non-surgical, evidenced based solutions tailored to your specific condition and needs. If you are experiencing back pain or have posture-related questions or would like information about any of our treatment methods or services, we invite you to schedule a consultation by using our convenient online form by clicking here.