Many of you reading this were often told as a child to “sit up straight, shoulders back”. Much like eating your vegetables, this is a case where your parents knew best. Proper sitting poster, including sitting up straight and rolling your shoulders back, does have a number of health and productivity benefits to it. We’ll try to define what good and bad poster looks like, the health benefits of proper poster and ways to ensure you’re keeping good posture.
Let’s do a quick test right now. Are you sitting up straight? Are your feet flat on the floor? Is your heading leaning forward to read this? Statistically, you probably said yes to at least one of these questions. Poor posture includes:
- Slouching and hunching your shoulders over
- Holding your head and neck forward and/or down
- Commonly carrying a heavy purse or backpack on one side of your body
- Slumping forward while seated
- Sitting on the front of your chair while laying back on your chair
- Using a laptop on top of your lap
On the contrary, good posture includes:
- Sitting up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips. This means no wallets in your back pockets.
- Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor. Your legs should not be crossed.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don't twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from the sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends.
After reviewing good and bad poster, exam your current poster. Did you adjust yourself or stay slouched over? If your shoulders are still rolled forward, neck strained and back curved then you may be interested in the health benefits to proper posture.
Proper posture increases your health by:
- Facilitating breathing – Slouching compresses the diaphragm and lungs, making it difficult on your body to breathe. Having proper posture and sitting up straight allows the lungs to expand effectively and breathe with greater ease.
- Joint health – Through proper posture your spine is aligned and avoids uneven pressure on joints in your hip, back and neck. Uneven pressure on joints can lead to spinal arthritis, back and neck pain, facet disease and osteophytes.
- Digestion health – Slouching places pressure on your stomach, small intestines and colon, possibly giving rise to digestive problems such as acidity.
Checking back in, are you still in proper posture or have you gone back to slouching over your computer screen? It’s incredibly easy to have bad posture, especially after long periods in one position. Here are a couple of tips to help increase your posture and therefore your health.
- Invest in yourself and purchase posture-friendly props and ergonomic office chairs
- Print off an image of proper posture to put next to your computer screen to be a reminder
- Slouching most often occurs in the afternoon, set daily check-in’s to ensure you’re keeping proper posture
- Regular exercise will keep your posture muscles strong and naturally aligned
If you have further questions, many chiropractors give free assessments to guide you in the right direction.