Why Is Posture Elemental in Your Overall Health?

Posture. Do we think about it much? Maybe not since Mom used to remind us to, “Sit up straight!” 

Well, it turns out that posture is important in our overall health, and it’s also a unique trait that people tend to judge us on.

When it comes to health, good posture reduces stress on ligaments and wear on joints. It also helps prevent muscle strain that can lead to muscle pain. On the other hand, poor posture over time causes wear and tear, which can lead to injuries and chronic painful conditions.

So, what should we know about posture?

Sitting 

Poor posture while sitting can result in neck, shoulder and back pain. Since a lot of us spend a fair amount of our day sitting, let’s start with good posture tips for that part of our day:

  • Hands, wrists and forearms — straight and about parallel to the floor.
  • Head — facing forward and aligned with the torso, ears over your shoulders.
  • Shoulders — relaxed, and avoid letting them round forward or shrug.
  • Upper arms — hanging comfortably at your side.
  • Elbows — close to the body and bent between 90 and 120 degrees.
  • Back — fully supported with good lower back support.
  • Thighs and hips — supported by a well-padded seat. About parallel to the floor or with the knees slightly lower.
  • Knees — about the same level or slightly lower than the hips. Keep a space between the back of your knees and your chair seat. Keep your ankles a little in front of your knees.
  • Feet — fully supported by the floor or a footrest. If you cross your legs, cross at your ankles rather than the knees.

Most importantly, remember to get up and move around about one minute for every 30 minutes of continuous sitting! 

Standing

We can also boost musculoskeletal health by standing correctly: 

  • Feet — about shoulder-width apart, weight distributed evenly on both feet.
  • Knees — very slightly bent, not locked.
  • Arms — hanging naturally at your sides.
  • Back — straight and tall. Imagine a string coming out of the crown of your head (specifically, the back of the top of your head), which is attached to the ceiling, lifting your skull and lengthening your spine.
  • Shoulders — pulled back comfortably.
  • Head — facing forward and aligned with the torso, ears over your shoulders.

If you have to stand awhile, you can shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or back and forth from one foot to the other. 

Finally, regular exercise and stretching will improve muscle strength, tone and flexibility. Not every exercise is right for everybody, though, so be sure to ask your health care provider, or a postural specialist like a chiropractor or physical therapist, for exercises and postural tips that are ideal for you.

Meet the Author

Benjamin Holmes, DC, provides services in chiropractic manipulation, spinal rehabilitation and soft tissue therapies at the Aurora Sheboygan Clinic in Sheboygan, WI

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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