What is good posture?

Posture is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. 

Here’s a quick test to check your posture. Stand with the back of your head against a wall, place heels 6 inches from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades should touch the wall. There should be less than 2 inches between your neck or small of the back and the wall. A larger gap indicates bad posture and a curving spine.

When sitting, keep your head straight and not tilted up or down. Keep your shoulders back and try to relax. Sit with your knees slightly lower than your hips. Keep your feet flat on the floor. Don’t try to keep your back ramrod straight, and don’t work without support for your arms. Don’t tuck your feet under the chair or cross your legs above the knees.

When standing, keep your shoulders back and aligned. Use your stomach muscles to keep your body straight. Slightly bend your knees to ease pressure on the hips, and use quality shoes that offer good support. Don’t stick your chest out. Instead, try to keep your chest perpendicular to the ground. Don’t stand in the same position for long periods of time, and don’t wear high heels when standing for long periods of time.

When walking, keep your chin parallel to the ground and hit the ground with your heel first, then roll onto the toe. Keep your stomach and buttocks in line with the rest of the body. Don’t look down at your feet. Don’t arch your back.

When running, keep your head up and looking forward. Keep your arms loose and elbows at a 90 degree angle. Lean forward slightly, and hit the ground with the midpoint of your foot and roll it forward to the toe. Don’t hunch your shoulders, bend at the waist, or lift your knees too high.

When sleeping, use a firm mattress that provides support. Minimize spinal curves by using pillows as necessary or upgrading your mattress. Stretch before bed to ease tense muscles, and sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs, on your back, or under your knees for better support. Don’t sleep on your stomach. It can cause pressure on the cervical spine. Don’t sleep with a tall stack of pillows that causes your neck to bend unnaturally.

Checklist: 

How Me Does Your Posture Measure Up? 

  1. Your feet should be well supported (either by the floor or a footrest)
  2. The angle at your hips and knees should be >90°
  3. Your back should be well supported by your chair
  4. Your head and neck should remain upright
  5. Your upper arms should remain close to your body and relaxed
  6. Your elbow angle should be 90 ° or greater
  7. Your forearms should be parallel with the ground or angled slightly downward
  8. Your wrists should remain in a straight or neutral position

How Does Your Workstation Measure Up?

  1. Your Chair Should support your low back Your feet should rest firmly on the ground (or footrest) slightly in front of you
  2. Your Monitor Should be directly in front of you, at an arm’s length distance with your eyes at the same level as the tool bar
  3. Your Mouse Should be positioned close to you near the edge of the desk
  4. Your Keyboard Should be centered in front of you and near the edge of the desk

Look for Signs of Ergonomic Injuries

  • Presence of tingling, numbness or loss of sensation in the hands
  • Pain: sharp, dull or burning sensation
  • Weakness
  • Cold hands
  • Clumsiness or loss of coordination
  • Discomfort or tightness in the muscles
  • Swelling, inflammation or stiffness in joints