Posture and Spine Health

“Stand up straight!”, a phrase you may hear often, is not only for the sake of appearance but also for the sake of a healthy spine and back! Maintaining a good posture isn’t always easy, especially if you’ve had a sub-par posture for years, it can be hard to change. Many times, we don’t even realize our posture is incorrect because we’ve been functioning that way for so long. However, there are a multitude of benefits of keeping your spine in the ideal position, especially as you age. Read on to find out why a great posture is so important, and how you can keep your back and spine in tip-top shape.

Why Is It Important to Have Good Posture?

There are a number of reasons to maintain a good posture, especially when it comes to back and spine health. Below is a list of advantages of keeping things aligned:

  • Prevents pain in the back, neck and other joints and muscles
  • Decreases abnormal pressure on joints
  • Promotes efficient use of muscles and energy, which prevents fatigue
  • Maintains spine in the correct position, avoiding the development of abnormal fixed curvatures / or loss of curvature
  • Promotes less strain on spinal ligaments
  • Allows for better circulation of blood and oxygen throughout the body, which in turn increases energy, improves digestion and lung capacity

Ways to Improve Posture for Better Spine Health 

Having a good posture involves the alignment and balance of the three main curves of the spine. The curve at the neck (cervical curve), the mid-back curve (thoracic curve), and the lower back curve (lumbar curve), when kept in balance will allow for the rest of the joints and muscles in the body to function efficiently. Depending on the activity, there are different forms of ideal posture. Below are some steps to attain the optimal posture when walking, standing, sitting, and lying down.

Best Posture for Walking

  1. Keep your head and neck upright, and make sure you are looking straight ahead. Do not push the head forward, and very slightly tuck in the chin.
  2. Stand tall and roll shoulders back and down, away from the ears.
  3. Lightly tighten the stomach muscles to engage the core muscles.
  4. Keep the back straight; do not arch forward or backward.
  5. Allow arms to swing freely with your movement, with a slight bend at the elbow.
  6. Ensure feet are always pointed forward, and step smoothly, from heel to toe.

Best Posture for Standing

  1. Put your weight on the balls of your feet, and place feet shoulder-width apart with knees slightly bent.
  2. Stand tall and roll shoulders back and down, away from the ears.
  3. Lightly tighten the stomach muscles to engage the core muscles.
  4. Keep the back straight; do not arch forward or backward.
  5. Keep your head and neck upright, and do not push the head forward. Very slightly tuck in the chin.
  6. Allow arms to hang comfortably at your sides.

Best Posture for Sitting

  1. Keep feet flat on the floor. If they don’t reach, adjust your chair or use a footrest.
  2. Keep knees forward, and slightly apart, bent at a 90-degree angle. Knees should be at or below the level of your hips.
  3. Keep the back straight, and upright. Roll shoulders back and down.
  4. Keep your head and neck upright, and do not push the head forward, and very slightly tuck in the chin.
  5. Rest your hands on the knees or in your lap. If working at a desk, make sure forearms are parallel to the ground.
  6. Avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes at a time.

Best Posture for Lying Down

  1. Make sure you have a proper mattress that is comfortable for you. Firmer is usually better, but if a slightly softer mattress is better for you, that’s okay too.
  2. Using a pillow will allow for proper support and alignment of the head and neck. Make sure it is under your head and neck and not under your shoulders.
  3. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach. Lying on your back or side is preferred to avoid back pain.
  4. If lying on your back, place a pillow under your knees.
  5. If lying on your side, place a pillow between your knees.
  6. When getting up from a lying position, turn on your side and bring knees up toward your chest, and swing legs over the side of the bed. Push yourself up with your hands until sitting upright.