Authority figures in your life may have encouraged you to "not slouch" or to "stand up straight!" Other than that, no formal good posture definition is offered, which begs the question, what does good posture look like?
Balance Your Weight
According to the Cleveland Clinic, good posture depends on training your muscles and your mind to keep your body in optimal alignment, which can reduce strain on your body.
A big part of that is to keep your body even and symmetrical from your right side to your left side. Keep your weight equal on both feet, keep your hips in line with your knees. Your shoulders should be rolled back, and at the same height.
Think about how a large wallet in your back pocket slightly tilts your hips and moves the spine and muscles into an abnormal position, or how a mother holds her baby on one hip, putting the strain on one side more than the other. Both of these unequal postures can lead to spinal problems and muscle imbalances, so remember, distribute your weight evenly, and equally from left to right.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends that in order to find your optimal posture, stand up tall, and exaggerate the curve in your lower back, and roll back and drop your shoulders. Relax the bend in your back about 10 degrees. This is a good standing or sitting posture, and it may seem like it's hard to keep up for more than a minute or two at first. There are a few exercises that you can do to help strengthen the muscles to help you stay in this posture more comfortably.
Good Posture While Sitting
What good posture definition is offered when sitting at a desk? The Cleveland Clinic emphasizes the importance of maintaining the natural curves of the spine while sitting, possibly even using a rolled up towel to support your lower back.
Additionally, you should have both feet planted on the floor with knees bent at a 90-degree angle. A footrest may be needed to keep your hips aligned with your knees, as your knees should be even with your hips or even a little higher than your hips.
If you are working at a computer or even using a smartphone, it's a good idea to raise the level of your work to eye level rather than extending your neck to look at the computer screen or dropping your eye level to look at your phone.
In summary, you can achieve good posture by following these tips:
- Balance your weight on both feet and hips
- Roll back and relax your shoulders
- Maintain the natural curves of your spine
- Bring documents, computers, smartphones to eye level, rather than flexing or extending the neck
- Strengthen muscles that support your neck and back, and stretch your body regularly to keep them in working condition
Training for Improved Posture
In addition to exercises linked above, there is more you can do to improve your posture. Studies have shown that even short breaks for meditation can help improve self-control and posture. You can speak to management at your work about the importance and benefits of creating an ergonomic policy at your job. Good posture and a spine-friendly environment are also important if you work from home. There is a myriad of products available from specialized desk chairs, to standing desks or apps to help you remember to correct your posture throughout the day.