More than one person has made the mistake of believing that I’m short. They first see me while I’m sitting and confuse a 5’10” body with a 5’3” frame. I would love to attribute this illusion to a short torso and long legs, but the truth is I slouch. I drop into a chair, slide down and lean into poor posture. Almost everyone does, but that doesn’t make it okay. Poor posture can lead to chronic back pain and can affect how we look, breathe and feel. Sitting straight and standing tall improves our overall health, but we can’t break the slump without knowing how. So . . .
Start with sitting. Most of us spend the majority of our days at a desk. As such, our bodies take the heaviest toll from our seated posture. To alleviate the stress, make sure that your pelvis is tilted slightly forward and that your hip joints are slightly higher than your knees. Never allow the angle between your legs and your torso to be less than 90 degrees. Try to rest 40 percent of your weight on your legs and feet. Don’t lean forward too much, and if you find yourself resting your arms on your knees or desk, think of your mother. Every time she told you to get your elbows off the table, she was doing your back a favor. Finally, shift. The best seated posture, changes frequently. Whenever you can, alter your position while maintaining the natural arch of your back. Oh and, stand up once in a while. Our bodies weren’t designed to stay parked for long, so every 20 – 30 minutes, lengthen your legs. But, remember that you have to have good posture when you’re doing that as well, so . . .
While standing, keep your ankles straight, your knees loose and forward, your shoulders level, and your chin parallel to the floor. In terms of your weight, divide it evenly between the balls of your feet, your heels and the sides of your feet. Be aware of the natural curves to your body and maintain them. You shouldn’t feel awkward when practicing proper posture; you should feel proper. If you’re uncomfortable, move around until you find the position that’s right for your body. We’re all made differently, so your officemate’s alignment may vary from yours. You don’t have to or want to be straight as an arrow. However if you’re only happy when you’re hunchback, you might want to seek outside advice, because you certainly don’t want to slouch that much.