Stack 'Em Up Part Two: What Does Good Posture Look Like?
Updated: Apr 14
by Anna DiMarco, Senior Physiotherapist
In the world of rehabilitation medicine, we refer to good posture as that posture which maintains the three natural curves of the spine and imposes the least amount of stress and strain on the supporting structures of the skeleton, such as the bones, discs, ligaments and muscles.
Generally speaking, good standing posture is achieved when there is an imaginary straight line that runs from your ears to your shoulders to your hips and down to your ankles. Imagine there is a string pulling your head upwards from the crown towards the ceiling. The body is not rigid and the knees are not locked.
When sitting for short periods of time (ten minutes or less), the ideal seated position would maintain the three natural curves of the spine and our weight would be evenly distributed between our "sit" bones. Our feet would be flat on the floor or a foot rest with our knees at an approximately 90 degree angle to our hips. Our spine would be upright with our head positioned centrally over the neck and shoulders.
Prolonged Seated Posture
In the world of medicine, we are becoming increasingly aware of the detrimental effects of prolonged sitting. (Watch for a future blog post on this topic!!) Our anatomy and physiology are not at all built for the conventional requirements of office work. Even sitting in "ideal" seated posture for extended periods of time is hard on our bodies. Changing position frequently is really the best sitting strategy advice I can offer. Dr. Stuart McGill, a Canadian research and clinical physiotherapist, has looked at prolonged sitting and he sums up his findings with this notion “The ideal sitting posture is a variable one". He recommends using an ergonomic chair and exploring different postures throughout the work day. He suggests periodically adjusting the different parts of the chair so that your joints are not always at the same angles. He even recommends sitting cross legged (Meditation style) in the chair for periods of time. These frequent position changes will ensure that the tissue loading may be shared and distributed among all of the structures of the spine. REGARDLESS OF THE POSTURE YOU CHOOSE TO INHABIT AT YOUR WORK DESK, REMEMBER TO ALWAYS KEEP YOURSELF RELATIVELY UPRIGHT...NO SLOUCHING!! For a quick little video on how to improve laptop/Tablet ergonomics at home or at work, for yourself or your child, please follow this link Patience Is a Virtue Remember, old habits are difficult to break and outsmart. Be patient with yourself and remember that your posture will slowly improve over time with conscious awareness and attention. It is sometimes useful to utilize visual or auditory reminders to "nag" you out of your slouching tendencies. I have often recommended placing sticky red dots, the ones used for file coding and readily available at any dollar store, on several surfaces in the home and work environment as a postural correction cue. Good locations may be: on your telephone, on your computer screen, on the rear-view mirror of your car, on your watch strap, on the television remote. You can also choose auditory or situational reminders to assist you in your journey towards improved posture: ringing phone, red lights, text messages received, every time someone uses your name, etc. As long as you are aware of your posture, and making regular daily attempts to improve it, you are on the right path to improved mood, greater energy, improved digestion, improved confidence, improved memory, less physical pain and discomfort and maybe even greater longevity. Who knew that your mother's advice to sit up straight had such far reaching implications? Stay Strong, Stack 'Em Up Well, Live Well, Anna