Even with extracurricular sports and hitting the gym, sometimes it can be hard to handle a mostly sedentary lifestyle. And many of us have to have such a life, whether we’re students in school all day or adults in an office.
Why Does Posture Matter?
The benefits of good posture start with the most basic structures in your body. In other words, good posture keeps bones and joints in alignment. This in turn keeps your muscles working right. By helping your bones stay in alignment, you can also decrease your risk of arthritis, prevent ligament stress, and prevent your spine from settling abnormally. On a less severe scale, good posture helps you use your body’s energy efficiently, and prevents strain and muscle pain. Overall, you’ll also look and feel better if you sit and stand properly.
It may be tough, but keep your feet flat on the floor. This adjusts the rest of your posture, which is a great start to sitting healthy. Putting your feet flat on the floor also should make your knees bend at a right angle.
The other thing you should avoid is crossing your legs–at least for too long. Crossing your legs for a long period of time can affect circulation. At the very least, this can be uncomfortable–ever had your leg fall asleep? That can get especially uncomfortable if it’s numb or tingling and you have to walk somewhere quickly. If you’re cold, use a lap blanket.
Back and Spine
One of the most important things you can do when sitting up all day is to sit straight. There are 3 regular back curves that should show if you’re sitting properly. Your back should curve out (toward the chair) around the shoulder blades, inwards towards your belly button, and back out at the base of your spine. Curving your back entirely toward the chair, while not harmful, can contribute to back problems and muscle strain in the long run.
Make sure that you evenly distribute your weight between both hips as you sit. This will reduce muscle strain and hip pain after hours of sitting.
Hands and Arms
Rest your arms and elbows on the arms of your chair or on your desk. This keeps your shoulders relaxed–a must for those who tend to suffer upper back pain. If you’re typing all day, keep your hands above the keyboard with your wrists in a neutral (straight) position.
Standing desks are more and more popular in today’s world to help avoid the effects of sitting for several hours. But you should practice good posture even with these to avoid strain and other problems.
When standing for a long time, shift your weight over the balls of your feet with your knees slightly bent, not locked. Your feet should be at or near shoulder width. As when sitting, keep your back straight with your shoulders back. Don’t let your neck curve forward, as this will cause strain.
No matter what you’re doing all day, or whether you sit or stand, be sure to take breaks! Pause every so often to stretch, walk around, and take a break from your desk. For students, this may be built in with physical education or breaks between classes.
Though it could take some work, put the effort into adjusting your posture. Your body will thank you for it later!