Monday, May 30, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Correct My Posture?

"I struggle with my posture, especially with my shoulders hunching forward. What does good posture look like? What are some strategies that I can use to correct my posture? And besides an improved appearance, what are the benefits of good posture?"

Registered Nurse Robert Mages Responds:

When you have good posture, your pelvis is neutral in alignment to support the S-curve of the spine. You don't want to push it forward or back.

Your weight should be evenly distributed from front to back – it should feel like the weight is falling directly through the middle of the foot. To check your posture, stand in front of a mirror and check that your head is straight, your shoulders are level and your knee caps face the front.

Then, turn to the side to evaluate your posture:
  1. Your head should be straight – not jutting forwards or backwards.
  2. Your chin should be parallel to the floor.
  3. You should be able to see a a straight line from your ears down to your shoulders and then to your hips, knees, and ankles.

To sit with good posture:
  • Sit with your back straight and your buttocks touching the back of the chair. If it is difficult to stay against the back of the chair, use a pillow or towel behind you to support your lower back.
  • Your knees should be even with or slightly higher than your hips.
  • Do not cross your legs, and keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Rest your elbows on your chair or desk to keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • Do not twist at the waist when sitting in a chair that pivots. Rotate your whole body instead.
Try to be aware of your posture throughout the day and correct it when necessary.

You may want to consider pursuing yoga or pilates. These disciplines strengthen your back muscles, upper torso, buttocks and legs to improve posture and stability.

Maintaining a good posture enables you to breath properly. And because you're increasing your oxygen to the brain, you'll experience increased concentration. Good posture also helps you to avoid health complications such as a slipped disc, back aches, back pain and poor blood circulation.

— Robert Mages, RN

Robert Mages is the Nurse Manager of the Open Heart Unit and Critical Care Unit at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo.

If you have a question about your health, click here to ask our experts.

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