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12 Months of Change: Practice Good Posture Every Time You Sit (Even in the Car)

By Sara Butler

Practice Good Posture

Posture. If you had a nickel for every time your mom or grandma told you to stand up straight as a kid, you’d probably have enough for at least a pizza. For a lot of people, posture seems like an outdated idea and conjures images of women walking around with books on their heads learning to be prim and proper.

The truth is that posture goes beyond how you look and it’s really important to your overall health and wellness. That’s why this month The Joint Chiropractic is focusing on practicing good posture every day, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

So go ahead and use these tips to improve your sitting posture every day throughout the month.

Posture: What’s the Fuss?

If you had another nickel for every time you’ve heard that sitting is the new smoking, you might be able to buy a round of drinks for that pizza! But it’s true, research is suggesting that when people sit for most of the day it increases their chances of developing chronic illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Technology has created an environment where a lot of people spend a lot of time sitting and the overall health and wellness of folks is starting to suffer.

You’re likely not going to change your sitting habits overnight but you can reduce the impact of all that sitting by paying attention to your posture. Paying a little attention to how you’re sitting can go a long way to help lessen its impact on how you feel.

Sitting Correctly

In general, you only need to do a few simple things to ensure that your posture is good while sitting. Every time you sit, you should do a quick check of these steps to ensure you’re sitting in an optimal position.

To sit, you should:

  • Sit at the end of your chair
  • Slowly roll your neck and shoulders forward in a slouching position
  • Pull your shoulders and head up slowly to a sitting position
  • Push your lower back forward and hold for a few seconds
  • Release the position slightly to make yourself more comfortable
  • Scoot all the way back in the chair until your lower back hits the chair and your hips are in the bend
  • You’re in a good sitting position!

Now that you’re starting off strong, you should address some other factors that can lead to poor posture.

Things That Influence Posture

You can sit down and be in a perfect position, but there are outside elements that can chip away at this premium posture if you don’t address them, such as:

  • Back support - You need a chair that offers ergonomic back support to help reduce the amount of stress on your body when sitting. If you don’t want to buy an expensive chair, then you should at the very least take a couple of other steps, such as supporting your lower back with a small pillow or rolled-up towel.
  • Tweak your chair - If you have an adjustable chair, then make sure it’s sitting far enough off the ground so that your knees are even with your hips and your legs are parallel with the floor. Keep your feet flat on the floor, too, using a stool or footrest if this isn’t possible. Keep your elbows tucked in at your sides so that your arms form an L.
  • Adjust your screen - Any screen you use while sitting should be at eye level or just a little bit below it. Basically, you shouldn’t have to tilt your head down to look at the screen, which is a posture that can place unnecessary stress on your shoulders and neck. If you need to, get a monitor stand or stack some books underneath it to bring it to the right level. This is true for every screen, not simply your screens at work.
  • Position your keyboard the right way - If you do a lot of typing, then your keyboard needs to be right in front of your computer screen, about four to six inches away from the edge of your desk so you can rest your wrists.
  • Take breaks - No matter if you’re watching something on your tablet at home or working in front of your computer at the office, it’s important to take frequent breaks so you can get up and move around at least once per hour. Set an alarm to remind you.

What About the Car?

Another place you tend to spend a lot of time sitting is in the car. Some of the same rules still apply, like frequent breaks if it’s a long trip and supporting your lower back with a small pillow or rolled-up towel, but there are other things to also consider. To have proper posture in the car, you should:

  • Adjust the seat pan - The part of the seat you sit on is the seat pan and it should be adjusted so that your thighs are completely supported and your knees are at a level just slightly below your hips. This helps to increase circulation as you sit.
  • Adjust your height - The perfect height when driving is for your eyes to be a minimum of three inches above the steering wheel.
  • Give yourself space - Don’t sit too close to the steering wheel. Make sure that you can comfortably reach the wheel and the pedals without strain, but don’t sit so close as to put yourself in danger. Studies have found that drivers closer to the steering wheel are more likely to suffer injuries if they’re involved in a crash.
  • Adjust your headrest - The top of your headrest should be between the top of your head and your ears, barely touching the back of your head when sitting.
  • Tweak the mirrors - Mirrors are an important tool when driving, so make sure to adjust them so that you can see traffic behind you without craning your neck.

Your mother and grandmother didn’t drive you crazy about your posture just for the sake of it, they knew that proper posture was important to your health and wellness. No matter how old you are now, it’s time to take their advice and pay attention to your sitting posture.

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