The following advice will benefit a majority of people with back pain. If any of the following guidelines causes an increase of pain or spreading of pain to the legs, do not continue the activity and seek the advice of a physician or physical therapist.
What is good posture?
- Keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly.
- Helps decrease the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces that could result in arthritis.
- Decreases the stress on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
- Prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions.
- Prevents fatigue because muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing the body to use less energy.
- Prevents strain or overuse problems.
- Prevents backache and muscular pain.
- Contributes to a good appearance.
Normal spinal alignment side view and front view. The spine should have three normal curves: cervical, thoracic and lumbar.
Proper posture requirements
- Good muscle flexibility
- Normal motion in the joints
- Strong postural muscles (see illustration below)
- balance of muscles on both sides of the spine (see illustration below)
- Awareness of your own posture along with awareness of proper posture leads to conscious correction. With practice, the correct posture for standing, sitting and lying down (as described below) will gradually replace your old posture
What is the correct way to stand?
- Hold your head up straight with your chin in. Do not tilt your head forward, backward or sideways.
- Make sure your ear lobes are in line with the middle of your shoulders.
- Keep your shoulder blades back.
- Keep your knees straight.
- Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling.
- Tuck in your stomach. Do not tilt your pelvis forward or backward.
- The arches in your feet should be supported.
What is the correct way to sit?
- Sit up with your back straight and your shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
- All three normal back curves should be present while sitting. A small, rolled-up towel or a lumbar roll can be used to help you maintain the normal curves in your back.
Here’s how to find a good sitting position when you’re not using a back support or lumbar roll:
- Sit at the end of your chair and slouch completely.
- Draw yourself up and accentuate the curve of your back as far as possible. Hold for a few seconds.
- Release the position slightly (about 10 degrees). This is a good sitting posture.
- Distribute your body weight evenly on both hips.
- Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep your knees even with or slightly higher than your hips. (Use a foot rest or stool if necessary.) Your legs should not be crossed.
- Keep your feet flat on the floor.
- Try to avoid sitting in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
- At work, adjust your chair height and work station so you can sit up close to your work and tilt it up at you. Rest your elbows and arms on your chair or desk, keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- When sitting in a chair that rolls and pivots, don’t twist at the waist while sitting. Instead, turn your whole body.
- When standing up from a sitting position, move to the front of the seat of your chair. Stand up by straightening your legs. Avoid bending forward at your waist. Immediately stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends.
It is OK to assume other sitting positions for short periods of time, but most of your sitting time should be spent as described above, so there is minimal stress on your spine.
Correct driving position
- Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
- Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.
What is the best position for sleeping and lying down?
The best lying or sleeping position may vary, depending on your symptoms. No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position.
- Try to sleep in a position that helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back; or on your side with your knees slightly bent). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. You may want to avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress, since this can cause back strain and can be uncomfortable for your neck.
- Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You also can place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary. If you’ve always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Try to do what’s most comfortable for you.
- Try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
- When standing up from a lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.
For More Information
If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 216.444.8282. We will be happy to answer your questions.If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 216.444.8282. We will be happy to answer your questions.