Posture Matters

The quality of your posture can make a big difference in your life. Good posture can make you look and feel younger, stronger and more confident. Straightening up allows you to fill your lungs when you breathe, giving the body more oxygen, which gives you more energy. Slouching stresses muscles, which makes you tired. And bad body alignment is the main cause of back and neck problems.

Posture is not a position; it's the relationship of one body part to the next. You not only stand but walk, sit, bend, reach, type, telephone, brush your teeth, one set of motions after another, all day. The ideal is to use your bodies in a relaxed, balanced, correctly aligned way all the time. Remember to:

  • Sit up straight when seated. A slouched posture aggravates back discomfort. In general, sitting puts more stress on your back than standing does.
  • Sit in chairs with either straight backs or low back (lumbar) support. The seat should be high enough that your thighs rest horizontally on the seat. That way, your weight is more evenly distributed and your back isn't forced to assume a disproportionate amount of your weight.
  • Wear proper footwear. Wear shoes with low or flat heels. High heels stress your back.
  • Practice good posture. You must practice, especially if you are changing years of bad habits.
  • Find a good exercise program. It is a good idea to find an exercise program that strengthens muscles. Weak or stiff hip muscles can contribute to an improper alignment of your pelvis and lower back. Learn exercises that train the abdominals to hold the pelvis in neutral alignment. Yoga and Pilates are ideal because they focus on alignment and controlled movement of the spine.

Source: Dr. Robert J. Luchi, Baylor College of Medicine, Department of Medicine