Good Posture

Mom was right: It’s important to sit up straight.

In fact, maintaining good posture throughout the day helps protect your back, whether you’re sitting, standing, or even lying down. Holding your body correctly helps keep your spine in proper alignment. There’s less stress on the ligaments that hold your spinal joints together, and you’re able to use the surrounding muscles more efficiently. As a result, you can do more before your muscles get tired, and your risk of back injury is reduced.

In the long run, sitting and standing tall helps keep your spine from becoming fixed in an abnormal position. Follow these guidelines for good posture all day long.

Sitting Straight

  • Put both feet on the ground with your ankles in front of your knees. If your legs are too short, use a footrest. Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
  • Check your sitting position:
    • Your shoulders should be relaxed and straight, not slumped forward.
    • Your low and middle back should be supported by the chair. If they’re not, consider using a back support.
    • Your knees should be at hip level, with a small space between the backs of your knees and the front of the seat.

Using a Computer

  • Follow the above guidelines for sitting in a chair.
  • Set up your workstation.
  • Adjust the height of your chair so that the desk is about elbow level, if possible. Center the keyboard in front of you.
  • Check your typing position:
    • Your upper arms should hang relaxed near your body.
    • Your lower arms and wrists should form a straight line.

Driving a Car

  • Adjust the seat as close to the steering wheel as you comfortably can. You should be able to reach the pedals easily with your knees bent.
  • Check your driving position:
    • Your hands should hold the steering wheel at about 3:00 and 7:00. To reduce hand strain, periodically switch to 5:00 and 10:00.
    • Your low and middle back should be supported by the seat. If they’re not, consider using a back support.
    • Your knees should be at or slightly higher than your hips.

Standing Tall

  • Place your feet about shoulder-width apart. Your body weight should be primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Check your standing position:
    • Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Don’t jut your head forward or tilt it to the side.
    • Your shoulders should be relaxed and slightly back, not slumped forward.
    • Your arms should hang relaxed at your side.
    • Your tummy should be pulled in.
    • Your knees should be slightly bent.

Lying in Bed

  • Choose a firm, but not uncomfortably hard, mattress. Avoid thick pillows that force your neck forward. Instead, consider using a thin pillow or folded towel that fits into the small distance between your neck and the bed when you’re lying on your back.
  • Sleep in a position that lets you maintain good posture through the night:
    • Lying straight on your back is a good choice. Putting a pillow under your knees may help with back pain.
    • Lying on your stomach, turn your head to one side. Then bend your arm and leg on that side to get comfortable. If it feels better, you can put pillows under your bent knee and elbow.