4 Hours of Perfect Posture
By Pete Williams
Living in a high-tech world that involves a lot of sitting, it can be difficult to maintain perfect posture for even a few hours. But with a little effort and some simple strategies, it’s possible to keep such a position around the clock. The benefits of doing so are many: Perfect posture will decrease your potential for injury in the lower back, knees, ankles, shoulders and elbows. It will increase energy and can even help you look leaner.
Use these tips to make sure that you're sitting and standing straight:
1. Keep your shoulder blades pulled back and down.
2. Elevate your chest
3. Keep your tummy drawn up and in
4. If you’re standing with perfect posture, your ears should be in line with your shoulders, your hips with your knees, and your knees with your ankles.
5. If you’re seated, there should be a line between your ears and hips.
Daily life tends to cause us to sit at work, during transit, leisure time, and even while asleep. Tackling these four areas will go a long way toward round-the-clock perfect posture.
Perfect Posture at Work
Start by adjusting your chair so that your knees are at the same height as your hips or slightly lower. The computer monitor should be positioned straight in front of you so that the angle of your chin is flexed down 20 to 30 degrees. The brightness of the computer screen should be proportionate to the room. If it’s darker, decrease the brightness.
Most importantly, take breaks every 30 minutes.
“You want to get yourself in the extended position after spending so much time in the seated, flexed position,” says EXOS physical therapist Thomas Knox.
If you’re stuck in a long meeting, reset your posture every 15 minutes. When you do so, squeeze the shoulder blades back and down as if trying to draw them into your back pockets. By activating the glutes, core and shoulders, you’ll counteract the forces pushing your body into a hunched-over position.
An increasing number of companies are holding meetings standing up. This not only prevents people from hunching over in chairs, it inevitably makes meetings shorter and more productive.
Perfect Posture in Transit
Most of us spend a lot of time in transit, whether planes, trains or automobiles. The key to maintaining perfect posture in the car is to force yourself to do so.
“Adjust your mirror to where it should be when you have perfect posture,” says Sue Falsone, vice president of performance physical therapy for EXOS. “That way you’ll have to maintain good posture to be able to see out of it. It’s an effective reminder.”
If you’re on a train or plane, get up every 30 minutes and stretch, assuming the "fasten seat belt" light is not activated.
“If you’re switching planes and have a bit of a layover, go for a walk rather than sitting right back down in the waiting area,” Knox says.
Perfect Posture at Home
After a long day at work and transit, it’s tempting to plop onto a couch or chair and sit some more. Regeneration is a key part of the Core Performance system, but even sitting leisurely for long periods has its pitfalls.
“Get up during commercial breaks and move around,” Knox says. “It sounds simple, but it’s another example of how if you just constantly think in terms of standing and resetting your posture throughout the course of the day, you’ll find it becomes second nature.”
Commercial breaks are also a great opportunity to stretch or do some light self-massage with a foam roll or tennis ball. You can also try the posture booster below.
Perfect Posture While Sleeping
It’s not always easy to maintain perfect posture while sleeping since, after all, you’re not always conscious of your position.
But Alyssa Kay, a physical therapist in Palm Harbor, Fla., says she’s amazed how often she’ll treat someone with neck pain who is sleeping on two or more pillows.
“When you’re propped up on more than one pillow, you’re a lot more likely to position your neck out of alignment,” Kay says. “One pillow should be all you need.”
Kay recommends taking that extra pillow and placing it between your legs. That keeps your hip in proper alignment, assuming you don’t kick the pillow away at some point during slumber.