Updated: Aug 1
Having good posture isn’t just about standing up straight. Good posture is an impactful factor in long-term health. Postural patterns play a significant role in pain experiences, symptom severity & frequency, and healing.
Tips for Achieving a Neutral Posture:
Seated posture: In sitting, rock your pelvis forward and backward until you feel the most pressure through your sit bones. This puts the low back and upper back into a neutral position. Next, make sure your shoulders are pulled back slightly. Think: "Pull your shoulder blades down and in, as if trying to tuck them into your back pockets." Then perform a chin tuck by pulling your chin straight back. Then relax your neck muscles to obtain a neutral position for your neck. Your positioning should not return to a slouched posture.
Good neutral posture with alignment through ear, shoulder, and hip joint.
Poor posture with forward head and neck positioning, and sacral sitting.
Poor posture with rib cage flare and excessive low back curvature.
Recliners and couches: Recliners/couches tend to promote a slouched posture, starting with causing the pelvis to roll backward (a posterior pelvic tilt) and causing rounding up the rest of the spine. To correct this posture use a lumbar roll to keep your pelvis and low back in a neutral position. A lumbar roll can be as simple as a rolled-up towel. This also allows you to fully adjust it until you find the right amount of support for your body. Use the above information about seated posture to find a neutral seated position. Then, place the lumbar roll between your lower back and the back of the chair/couch. Adjust the back support until it comfortably supports your spine in neutral.
Standing posture: In standing, rock your pelvis all the way forward, then all the way backward, center it between those two extremes. This might feel awkward in comparison to your usual standing posture; this just means it will take time to adjust. Then build the rest of your position as we previously instructed for a seated position. You should have a straight line from your ear→shoulder→hip joint→knee→ankle bone. Standing in front of a mirror is the best way to see if you are achieving this posture. Relax slightly once you’ve achieved neutral positioning you don’t need full muscle tension all the time.
Good Posture Poor Posture
Alignment through ear, shoulder, Forward head and shoulder
hip joint, and ankle; knees "soft", positioning, pelvis rotated
not bent or locked. backwards, knees excessively bent, not activating gluteal muscles.
1. Asymmetries in positioning. Some common asymmetries include crossing legs, shifting weight onto one leg in standing, tipping the upper body sideways, and holding a child on the same side of your body all or most of the time. These patterns cause us to develop unbalanced muscle tension patterns and poor spinal and pelvic alignment. You might be surprised to learn how many aches and pains can arise from these alignment problems. Our bodies do best with neutral, balanced positioning. Find something to remind you to check in with your posture frequently. This will allow you to make corrections and for your body to adapt to a more neutral position over time.
2. Resting on the Y ligament is a common postural tendency as it allows a person to remain upright with reduced use of the glute muscles and a forward head position. It is especially common when carrying a child or some other heavy load. The problem is that it creates a compensatory pattern up the spine that results in tight muscles in the back and many other complaints. Fix it by engaging your core and glutes and keeping your hips centered over the ankles.