You’ve heard it for years: “Posture is important.” But what exactly is posture, and why is it so important?
When people talk about posture, they’re referring to the position of the body when sitting or standing. “Good posture” is what happens when the spine is kept in its natural, neutral alignment. The spine has three natural curves: cervical (upper), thoracic (middle) and lumbar (lower). Good posture allows the spine to follow these natural curves, which helps reduce incidences of disc pain, disc protrusion, osteoarthritis and other painful neck and back injuries.
Maintaining good posture while sitting
When we sit, we’re at our most vulnerable for developing poor posture. Sitting in an unhealthy posture is a mistake that can lead to herniated discs, sciatica and degenerative disc disease, among other problems. You can maintain proper posture while sitting by:
- Choosing the right chair – The right chair can make all the difference, especially if it’s a chair where you will sit for long periods of time. Make sure your chair adequately supports your back and allows you to place both feet on the floor.
- Avoiding slouching – Many of us slouch forward when sitting. This is a surefire way to pull your back out of alignment. Keep your head level and your shoulders back, down and relaxed.
- Distributing weight evenly – Make sure your weight is distributed evenly on both hips. Do not sit balanced to one side.
- Properly positioning legs and feet – Keep your feet flat on the floor, slightly apart. Your knees should be bent at a right angle and should be even with, or slightly higher than, your hips.
- Taking breaks – Try not to sit in the same position for more than 30 to 40 minutes at a time. Take frequent breaks from sitting to stand, stretch and walk around.
Maintaining good posture while standing
Sitting may put us at greater risk for bad posture, but that doesn’t mean standing posture isn’t important. Here are some ways you can maintain good posture while standing:
- Stand as tall as possible while keeping your feet fully on the ground. Don’t hunch or slouch.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. The majority of your weight should be on the balls of the feet.
- Keep your knees loose and unlocked.
- Keep hips aligned squarely over your feet. Imagine “stacking” your rib cage on top of your hips.
- Keep your head high, straight and square at the top of your neck. Avoid pushing it too far forward.
A good way to check your posture is to stand with your back against a wall. Your head, shoulder blades and buttocks should be in contact with the wall, with your neck and lower back curving out and away from the wall. If this is not the case, then your posture is out of alignment.
If poor posture has caused you develop radiculopathy, spinal stenosis, slipped discs or back pain of any kind, contact Laser Spine Institute to learn how our minimally invasive procedures can help you find relief from neck and back pain and allow you to reclaim your life without back or neck pain.