This post was provided by Dr. Mark Barnes of BackJoy.
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that sitting for long periods of time is bad for your health. However, we must realize that prolonged standing comes with its own set of health implications. It’s important to alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day, all the while maintaining correct posture.
Small actions, one day at a time, can have lasting, positive changes…and better posture will help you breathe better, lower stress hormones, build confidence and achieve greater focus and energy—not to mention you’ll have less back pain!
Here are our top 10 tips on how to achieve good sitting and standing posture.
1. Improve sitting posture at work
TIPS: Head back, shoulders back, and hips upright with an ‘S’ curve in your spine. Maintain good ergonomic principles: find a good chair, use proper pelvic support
(like a BackJoy SitSmart), knees at 90 degrees, raise your monitor height level with your eyes. Switch to a standing position every 20-30 minutes.
2. Ditch the heels and invest in “zero drop” shoes
TIPS: Find shoes that keep your heel and toes at the same height. Find a wide toe box so your foot can move naturally and keep your weight evenly distributed across the whole foot.
3. Sleep on your side or back instead of your stomach
TIPS: Find the right pillow that preserves the curve of your neck on your back, and keeps spine parallel to the bed on your side. Place a small pillow between knees on your side, and under them on your back.
4. Be conscious of “technology posture” and “text neck” – The 3 T’s: Texting, Tablet, TV (Gaming)
TIPS: Keep devices at head height and don’t excessively bend neck down or to the side. Don’t slouch on the couch, and get up and exercise more than your thumbs!
5. Incorporate core exercises into your workout routine
TIPS: Back exercises are as important to your core as abs are. Mix them both in with your daily workout routine.
6. When you lift heavy things (weights, boxes, kids), bend at the knees, not the back
TIPS: Think like an Olympic weight lifter and get low. Use muscles that keep the ‘S’ curve in your back and avoid the ‘C’ shape hump back. Functional fitness training can help. Wear posture-enhancing shirts or sports bras for support and muscle memory.
7. Tell your mom “thanks”! She was right—sit and stand up straight
TIPS: Give her a big hug, buy her some flowers and admit she was right all those nagging years!
8. Consult with a posture professional (PT, chiropractor, ergonomist)
TIPS: Find a medical professional you trust. Look for a physical therapist, chiropractor, ergonomic specialist, or massage therapist. Search local listings and check out reviews on Yelp!
9. Stretch—do Pilates, yoga, swimming…
TIPS: Pilates, yoga, swimming, foam rollers or other self massage devices are a great start. Focus on stretches and movements that lengthen chest, biceps and hip flexor muscles in the front of your body. Once you start there you can think about the back.
10. Eat healthy and watch your weight
TIPS: Eat a healthy diet to support your muscles and drink lots of water so they can function well. People with extra weight around the mid-section can pull the pelvis forward and add stress on the lower back. Overweight and obese adults are also more likely to have disc degeneration in their lower back than normal-weight adults, according to a new study published in the journal, Arthritis & Rheumatism.
Assess your posture!
Wear something form-fitting and take two full-body photos—one from the front, one from the side. Relax your muscles, and stand as tall as you can, feet hip-width apart.
- Remember to keep your head above heart above hips.
- If your ear is forward of your center line, your head is too far forward.
- If you see your shoulder blade, your back is too rounded.
- If your belly sticks out (even if you’re fit), you have an anterior pelvic tilt.
- One shoulder shouldn’t appear higher than the other.
- One knee shouldn’t be higher than the other. Both knees should point forward, they should not face inward.
- Your toes shouldn’t point excessively outward or inward more than 10 degrees either way.