health

Common Posture Mistakes & Fixes

Mikayla Borchert

Benovate’s Expert Blogger

Mikayla Borchert

Benovates’ Expert Blogger

Tips for Maintaining Healthy Posture Throughout the Day

When you think of good posture, what comes to mind? The truth is, healthy posture is about more than looking tall and confident—although those are added perks. There are actually two kinds of posture: dynamic, when you’re moving, and static, when you’re still. Sitting, standing, or squatting may seem like completely natural acts that require little to no thought, but it’s likely you’re doing some of them wrong most of the time.

While we pay close attention to our dynamic posture at the gym, we typically don’t think twice about slouching while watching TV, and we certainly don’t consciously align our hips while walking to the mailbox. However, ignoring posture can lead to injuries and health issues in the future. Read on to learn healthy habits for your posture and overall wellbeing in everyday activities.

Lifting a Heavy Object

Our first healthy habit is safe lifting. According to the Mayo Clinic, you shouldn’t bend over at the waist to pick something up off of the ground. Instead, squat as close to the object as you can, get a strong grip, and flex your abdominal muscles as you lift to maintain a straight back—you don’t want to arch or twist your back while lifting, and you don’t want to hold your breath. This allows your leg muscles to do the heavy lifting, and your back can avoid strain. If the object is too heavy to lift alone, don’t risk dropping it or hurting yourself. Ask for help to be sure you can finish the task safely.

Sitting in a Chair

Many of us spend the majority of our work days sitting at a desk. That’s why it’s so important to have good posture even while seated. According to the US Department of Health and Human Services, the first step is having a good chair: your feet should touch the floor, your knees should be at a 90-degree angle, your back should be supported, and your arms should rest somewhere between a 90- and 120-degree angle. If you can’t replace your chair to meet these parameters, try incorporating something like a footrest. Beyond adjusting your workspace, you can also refrain from crossing your legs and slumping your shoulders. All of these things will help you go home with less tension at the end of the day.

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Standing and Walking

When it comes to healthy posture, there’s a little more to think about than “stand up straight.” Healthy habits while standing include everything from your feet to your neck. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and your weight held forward on the balls of your feet. Relax your neck and shoulders to let your arms hang naturally. Keep your shoulders directly above your hips, and flex your abdominal muscles to encourage a straight spine. Tilt your chin slightly upward.

If you’re unsure if your hips are level, put your hands around your hip bones while you tilt your pelvis forward and backward. This activity is an easy way to become familiar with your lower body posture. Hold yourself this way while you’re walking too, and let your legs swing comfortably. Aligning yourself this way will take some of the pressure off your spine, and it will improve your overall wellbeing.

Driving in a Car

Good posture while driving is a little different from sitting in a regular chair. Geico explains that, in addition to general discomfort, “poorly positioned drivers also have an increased risk of serious injury if they get into an accident.” Their suggestions? Sit so that your back is fully supported by the backrest of your chair, but keep a two- to three-finger wide space between your calves and the edge of your seat.

If you can’t achieve this position, try using a lumbar pillow to give you adequate back support while you sit farther forward. If you can adjust the tilt of your seat, try keeping your knees slightly lower than your hips. This will encourage better blood circulation and take some stress off your hips. Sit close enough to reach the gas and brake pedals but not so close that your chest is almost touching the steering wheel; sitting too close to the airbag can be dangerous. Finally, adjust your headrest to be between your ears and the top of your head; this will help prevent whiplash if you’re ever in an accident.

Sleeping or Laying Down

It’s important to do all you can to be aware of your posture during the day, but what about at night? Your sleeping position and environment also play a role in keeping your posture healthy during the time you are awake. According to the American Chiropractic Association, you should avoid sleeping on your stomach and choose the right pillow. The pillow you choose should support the natural curve of your neck.Try to keep your neck in line with your chest–a pillow that is too high will strain your shoulders, neck, and back. They also recommend using pillows to keep your body in alignment when sleeping on your back or side. Placing a pillow between your knees when on your side or under your knees when on your back will help keep your body supported.

Focus on healthy posture this month! Soon, you won’t even have to think about it; eventually, you’ll notice a difference in how your muscles and joints feel. Perfecting your posture in these everyday activities will ensure that you’re feeling comfortable and healthy whether moving or holding still.

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