16 Practices to Help Improve Posture at Work

Posture is extremely important for your health. It can help align your body and allow your muscles to work together naturally. Poor posture can lead to muscle strains, pulls and can even strain ligaments. It can make your heart work harder than it should and injure your back. It can influence everything else you do, from walking to lifting heavy objects. Here's how to get good posture at work:

Sit Like This...

  1. Your feet should be flat on the floor. If they don't reach, try a footrest. The natural amount of pressure on your feet helps the muscles in your legs work in a way that holds your back more firmly.
  2. Leave a big amount of space between your knees and the seat. This makes sure you don't cut off any circulation to your legs.
  3. Make sure the backrest supports your lower back. Use a back support if you need to. It should feel very natural and easy to sit with a good back posture. You'll notice your head is in line with and directly above your shoulders, instead of thrust forward. As an added bonus, this helps keep your head a proper distance from your screen, reducing eye strain!
  4. Let your shoulders relax. They shouldn't be tight or hunched up. Your upper arms should fall naturally by your side and your forearms should be parallel with the ground.
  5. Get up every now and then. Rising from a seating position and moving for just a few minutes every hour drastically reduces your long-term risk of stroke!

...Not Like This

  1. Avoid crossing your legs, or holding your feet under your body when sitting. They should at least be under your knees. Crossing your legs under you tends to make you curve your head, neck, and back forward. This is because they're balancing out how your weight is shifted. If your chair has armrests, you'll notice you leaning on your upper body weight on your elbows instead of relying on your back muscles to naturally hold you up.
  2. Don't lean back. If your knees are higher than your hips, you're putting a lot of undue pressure on yourself throughout your body. You may also be making your heart work harder – and not in a healthy way.

Stand Like This...

  1. Your knees should always be bent just a little bit. This helps with circulation and even with foot strain. This is because it helps you stand on the balls of your feet, rather than leaning back on your heels or too far forward and straining your toes. Shift your weight a bit over time, and stagger your stance in different ways every now and then if you're standing for a very long time. This helps avoid foot strain and ensures circulation is healthy.
  2. It's natural for your feet to be under your shoulders. A shoulder-width stance is well balanced and helps engage your legs and back.
  3. Your arms don't need to be doing anything special. Let them hang at your side naturally. Many people will keep their shoulders unnaturally tight, but this can lead to tension headaches and make it slightly harder to breathe. If you notice you're doing this, pull your shoulders back. You'll feel how this gently engages your shoulder blades and helps maintain the curve of your back.
  4. Tucking in your stomach a little bit is natural. A totally relaxed abdomen can mean you're hunching your whole body forward. Too tightened an abdomen may mean you're straining and making yourself rigid, which can stress your body. Think of it this way – if you thrust your chest out a bit, your stomach naturally tucks in a bit. You may even feel a bit of a stretch if you've been sitting for a long time. That chest out, stomach tucked, shoulders back combination is ideal, and you may even realize how much deeper you're breathing now!
  5. Keep your head in line with your shoulders. Look to the side by turning your head, not by ducking your neck. This will reduce potential neck and shoulder strain.

Sleep Like This...

  1. The right mattress does matter. If you're waking up with back pain, it might be time to rotate the mattress, flip it, or even get a new one. Softer mattresses can help mitigate back pain, but too soft and you can end up shifting parts of your body out of alignment for hours at a time. If you're tall, aim slightly firmer when choosing a mattress – there's a greater length of you to keep aligned.
  2. Sleep on your back or side. Try not to sleep on your stomach.
  3. If you sleep on your back: many people shift around at night and that can't be helped. If you sleep on your back, train yourself to shift by raising your head and turning with your arms and body. Sometimes, bad neck strain occurs when someone sleeping on their back lifts their shoulders and pivots using their head. This can be very wearing. You may also wish to place a pillow under your knees.
  4. If you sleep on your side: use a pillow on the thinner side between your thighs to help your lower back and hips stay in line with each other. This is often thought of as only needed for women, but it's actually something both men and women benefit from.

For more tips and help improving your posture, contact Kordonowy Chiropractic to schedule an appointment.