Sit up tall. Pull your shoulders over your hips when you stand or walk. Don’t slouch over your phone, computer, a plate of food. It’s a lot easier said than done. Our posture seems to be unconscious, but the habit of how we carry ourselves can be changed. Small improvements to our posture allow for better breathing, circulation and digestion and improved concentration; decreased incidences of back pain or tightness and demonstrates better appearance and positive, open body language (1).
So what is good posture? How do you know?
When standing, good posture can be pictured as standing up with your earlobes over your shoulders, shoulders over hips, hips over knees and knees over mid-ankles. When sitting in a chair, ideally your butt is at the back of the chair, knees bent at a right angle with feet flat on the floor and your back resting on the chair back. The spine should be neutral. This should be comfy and easy for you to maintain. Unfortunately, it is too easy to slip from good posture to not so good posture, just from simple things like looking at your phone, sitting in a chair or on a stool that is too high for the surface, sinking into a couch or sleeping on a pillow that is too low or high.
Test Your Posture
Complete this quick test to see how your posture stands up:
Use a three-way mirror or have a friend help you check out these markers:
- When standing: your head, shoulders, hips, and ankles should line up, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder width apart or more.
- When looking at your back: are your shoulders and hips level or is one side higher than the other? Does your head tilt to one side or the other? Does one shoulder blade seem to be more prominent than the other? Do the muscles of the back seem more developed on one side, compared to the other? A healthy back should be symmetrical.
- When looking from the side, your neck and low back should curve to the front of your body, and your mid-back and pelvis should curve to the back. Postural distortions in the curves of your spine mean stress and strain on your back. (2)
Now you know what good posture is and how to test your posture, let’s talk about how to improve it.
1. See a chiropractor: this will help encourage good spinal health, which will allow proper alignment of the neck, spine, and hips. Chiropractors can also help decrease the rounded-shoulders and forward head flexion that are often seen as a result of too much computer work and slouching, which might also help to take the strain away from the neck. Chiropractors can also provide a number of other exercises that are specific to you that will help to improve your posture and performance.
2. Completing stretches and exercises to improve posture. A great 1-minute exercise that you can do to improve your posture is the YWTL poses (You Want to Live). They will teach you to pull an keep your shoulders back over your hips, and all just 1 minute a day!
3. Invest in the tools to aid in improved posture: A posture brace, a foam roller and a pillow that promote proper cervical spinal curvature are great tools to have and USE.
- A posture brace will help you become more mindful of your alignment whether it’s at home, in the car, at work or in the yard. Posture braces help to gently guide your shoulders back and assist you to keep your head over shoulders. A posture brace will not fix your alignment, they are meant to be used as a tool to promote good habits.
- Laying lengthwise on a foam roller with your hips at the bottoms of the foam roller and your head resting on the top, it should be aligned with your spine and your feet at a few inches apart, arms can be straight out. This stretch allows the shoulders to come back naturally and open up the chest muscles.
- Foam rollers are also great to help relieve tension within the back muscles, which will make it more comfortable to stand tall!
Foam rolling the mid to upper back is also a great technique to help loosen the muscles, which will make it easier to maintain good posture.
- We spent 5-9 hours in bed a night, that’s a lot of time that can either be spent promoting good spinal health or creating bad habits. Having a proper fitting pillow that keeps your ear and equal height from your shoulder to you ear when laying on your side. A rolled up towel is a good option for sleeping on your back. For a pillow that is customizable to your comfort levels and firmness, we recommend the ChiroFlow Water Based Pillows.
4. Set Reminders in Your Phone to remind you every 30-60 minutes to get up, walk around, stretch and to reset your posture.
Building and maintaining good posture is a habit that everyone can benefit from. Like a muscle, it will be an on-going process to retrain your body’s old memory patterns. But a good posture helps your body to build a stable platform for everything you do and improves everything your body does for you!
Want to learn more? We host 15-minute talks 2 Saturday/ month at 12 pm or schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our chiropractors. Call 403-279-2229 for more details.
Yours in health,
Office Manager, Chiropractic Assistant and Nutrition Consultant