Good posture for a healthy back

What is good posture?

SpineThe general concept of posture refers to "the carriage of the body as a whole, the attitude of the body, or the position of the arms and legs." It is the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity while standing, sitting or lying down. Good posture is the position which is attained when the joints are not bent or twisted and the spine is aligned. Maintaining good posture involves training your body to move and function where the least strain is placed on bones, joints and soft tissues.

What can good posture do for you?

  • Optimize breathing and circulation
  • Maintain the bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly and efficiently
  • Help reduce or prevent the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative diseases, such as arthritis
  • Decrease the stress on the soft tissues, such as ligaments, muscles, tendons and discs
  • Prevent the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions
  • Prevent fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy
  • Prevent postural strain or overuse problems
  • Prevent neck or back pain
  • Prevent muscle fatigue
  • Contributes to a healthy image or appearance

How do I know if I am sitting correctly?

Complete a posture checklist (pdf) and see how you "measure up."

Helpful hints:

  • Keep your back straight, maintain all 3 natural curves in your spine
  • Distribute your weight evenly on both hips
  • Keep your head and neck aligned over your shoulders
  • Sit back in your chair; your back should be supported by the seat back
  • Adjust your chair height so that your hips are slightly higher than your knees
  • Be sure your feet are supported by the floor or a footrest
  • Avoid sitting for long periods of time; get up from your chair at least once every hour
  • Do not twist or bend your back from a seated position

Do you have a long commute or spend a significant amount of time behind the wheel? Learn how to avoid the lower back aches and pains from driving! (pdf)