Good posture refers to the proper alignment of your body parts, true to the biomechanical or kinetic chain and anatomy. It helps maintain an optimal balance that minimises strain on the muscles, ligaments and joints.
“Usually, you can tell [if the posture is good or bad] just by looking,” says Dr Mithun Sai Sundar, orthopedist, Fortis Malar Hospital, Chennai. “You just have to go and stand against the wall. The back of the head, shoulder, hips and heels must be touching the wall — that is good posture.”
It enables efficient movement and reduces the possibility of pain and injuries.
Checklist for a good posture
1. Head: Keep your head aligned with your spine, not leaning forward or backward. Avoid tilting your head to one side for extended periods.
2. Neck: Ensure your neck is straight and not protruding forward. “Your posture becomes bad when you are lazy. While using your phone, you should not bend or tilt your neck and keep the phone at eye level,” says Dr Sundar.
3. Shoulders: Keep the shoulders relaxed and do not hunch them forward. “Shoulders should be rolled back, where you can feel pressure on your trapezius muscle and not the neck. While correcting your shoulder position, you will feel a stretch on your chest and upper back — a sign that you are maintaining good posture,” says Dr Sundar.
4. Chest: Push your chest forward by gently pulling your shoulder blades together. This can help correct rounded shoulders.
5. Upper back: Maintain a neutral spine (when different curves of your spine are in alignment) in the upper back, avoiding excessive rounding or arching. “While correcting your chest and upper back, you will feel a gentle stretch on your lower back,” says Dr Sundar.
6. Lower back: Engage your core muscles to support your lower back and maintain a slight inward curve. To achieve this posture, you must strengthen your core with exercises like planks, side planks and dead bugs.
7. Hips: Keep your hips level and comfortably aligned with your spine, avoiding excessive tilting either forward or backward.
8. Knees: Your knees need to be slightly bent and not locked, especially when standing for prolonged periods. The load should be on your quads and not the tendon or ligament of the knee.
9. Feet: Stand with your feet hip-width apart, distributing your weight evenly on both feet. Avoid rolling your feet inward or outward excessively. Foot posture and proper weight distribution are important for maintaining a healthy body posture.
10. Ankles: Keep your ankles straight and centred. Avoid crossing your legs for long periods as much as possible to prevent strain.
11. Sitting posture: Sit with your back supported and feet flat on the floor, maintaining a neutral spine position. “It is important to select a chair that will help you maintain a good posture. You should never sacrifice your body for the job. If you feel pain, your body’s trying to tell you to change your posture,” says Dr Sundar.
12. Lifting posture: Proper form and technique are vital while lifting. “When you bend to pick things up, you must always keep your upper body erect. Hinge using your larger muscles, like your back and glutes,” says Dr Sundar.
13. Screen time posture: Position your computer or phone at eye level to avoid straining your neck.
14. Taking breaks: Make sure to take regular breaks from sitting or standing by moving around and stretching to reduce stiffness.
15. Exercises for good posture: Train for strength and flexibility on a regular basis, and focus on strengthening your posture muscles to prevent any potential pain. “Skipping or jump rope is considered the best exercise for posture correction,” says Dr Sundar.