The Path to Perfect Posture

Good posture is important for everything we do, from making a good impression to preventing pain, but it means more than just standing up straight. It's the foundation for how the body moves, works and prospers. What exactly is good posture and how can you achieve it? Read on to become a posture perfectionist.

What Perfect Posture Looks Like

The term posture refers to the way you hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying down. Bad posture means we hunch, slouch, or let gravity pull our back, neck, shoulders and head out of alignment. Good posture means we train our body to stand, walk, sit and lie in ways that place the least amount of strain on bones, muscles and ligaments during movement or weight-bearing activities. 

Bad posture comes naturally to many people. They slump into a chair or let their shoulders hunch forward as they stand. They lock their knees or sway their back. Eventually, these postures create stress and strain on bones, organs, and muscles, which can lead to pain and injury. 

Most of us, however, are at least somewhat aware of what it means to have good posture, even if we don't always use it. That's because we've been told to stand up straight and pull our shoulders back since we were children.

The Cleveland Clinic says good posture:

  • Keeps bones and joints in correct alignment so muscles are used properly.
  • Helps decrease abnormal wear on joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
  • Decreases stress on ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
  • Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
  • Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
  • Prevents strain or overuse problems.
  • Prevents backache and muscular pain.
  • Contributes to a good appearance.

To achieve good posture, it's essential to understand how our spine normally functions. The spine has three natural curves:

  • Cervical - in our neck
  • Throracic - upper to middle back
  • Lumbar - low back

All three curves should be maintained and supported when we sit, stand, or lie down. 

Procuring Perfect Posture

Standing: Place your feet hip-width apart. Imagine creating a straight line that falls from your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Imagine a hook that attaches to the top of your head lifting you to your tallest position. Now, as you stand tall and straight, pull your shoulders back, tip your pelvis slightly forward, tuck your tailbone under and put a slight bend in your knees.

Sitting: Sit with your back straight and shoulders back. Keep your feet on the floor and your butt touching the back of your chair. Support your lumbar curve with a towel roll or round cushion. Rest your elbows at your side or at a right angle on your chair arm or desk. Make sure your computer monitor or reading material is positioned so you don't bend your neck too long. Get up every 30 minutes to stretch and move around.

Lying down: Sleep on your side or back, not your stomach. Use a pillow under your head, (not under your shoulders) and make sure your neck is well-supported in a natural position. If your low back aches, use a pillow to support your lumbar curve.  If you sleep on your side, bend your knees slightly, but don't fold them completely. Firm mattresses provide more support than soft ones.

Once you've mastered perfected your posture, move on to advanced studies and make good posture part of every move you make.


The Cleveland Clinic

Posture for a Healthy Back