I am sure you heard your mother tell you to sit up straight more than once and this is one of the many times that mother knows best. Good posture helps keep our bones and joints in correct alignment so that our muscles are used correctly decreasing the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that can result in overuse disorders, muscles strains, and osteoarthritis.
Several factors that contribute to poor posture are most commonly stress, obesity, pregnancy, weak postural muscles, abnormally tight muscles, and high-heeled shoes. In addition, decreased flexibility, a poor work environment and ergonomics, and unhealthy sitting and standing habits can also contribute to poor body positioning.
When standing, keep your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent, and weight over the balls of your feet. Let your arms relax down your sides. Stand straight and tall with your shoulders down and back and your stomach muscles tight. Keep your head level. Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side. Wear supportive shoes. If you are standing for long periods of time, lean from one foot to the other, lean back and forth from the balls of your feet to the heels, or put one foot on a rung of a chair or table about 4-6 inches off the ground.
When sitting, keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest if they don’t reach the floor. Don’t cross your legs. Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat. Your ankles should be in front of your knees and your knees should be at or below the level of your hips. Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low- and mid-back or use a back support. Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground. Keep what you are looking at in front of you instead of to the side or at an angle to avoid having your neck turned for long periods of time. Avoid sitting in the same position for hours at a time.
When lying down, be sure you have a supportive pillow. Support you back when you are lying face up by putting a pillow under your knees. Avoid lying on your stomach as it makes your neck twisted to one side causing neck pain. When lying on your side, you can support your back by placing a pillow between your knees.
Talk to Dr. Rachel about getting a postural exam for recommendations, exercises, and support about your posture.