In recent years, a lot of health related news has focused on how sedentary our lives have become—meaning we, adults and kids included, spend too much time sitting and staying still instead of being active. While many health issues result from being sedentary, like obesity and diabetes, there is one health issue that is not as commonly discussed: bad posture.
Posture is how we hold our bodies when we’re standing, sitting, or lying down. As gravity pushes down on us, it’s important that we are positioning ourselves properly for stability, movement, and muscle control.
Good posture is good for health. Good posture reduces risk of back pain and joint injury. Having good posture can protect the hips and knees. It can also help with breathing and digestion. In many cases, good posture can even improve athletic performance. Having good posture and standing upright also will help your kids convey a sense of confidence.
Like all habits, having good posture starts when we’re young. As kids, we train ourselves and strengthen our muscles to support our bodies so that we limit the strain on our joints and muscles. Unfortunately, many kids spend most of their day hunched over desks, computers, and even video games. This causes the shoulders to cave in and for the muscles that keep us upright to not fully develop.
At first, maintaining good posture requires a conscious effort—we, and our kids, have to constantly be aware of our bodies and their placement. Over time, however, we can train our muscles so that proper alignment will be natural and subconscious. Here are things to look for:
When standing (especially with a backpack):
- Keep weight on balls of your feet
- Keep knees slightly bent to take weight off the knee joints
- Keep your feet shoulder-width apart
- Stand straight and tall with shoulders slightly pulled back
- Tuck your stomach and ribcage in
- Keep your head level
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Put your back against the back rest
- Put your knees at a 90-degree angle
- Do not cross your legs
While standing and sitting are most common positions where posture is important, other movements like lying down, driving, and lifting objects also require attention.
- When lying down, make sure your mattress is firm enough to support your back (although for some, softer mattresses can reduce back pain). Lie on your back or side; if on your side, put a pillow between your legs.
- When driving, make sure you have enough back support. Keep your knees at the same level or higher than your hips.
- When lifting objects, make sure your feet are firmly on the ground. Keep your back straight and bend at your hips and knees. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift up with your leg muscles. Make sure to avoid twisting your body when you lift.
Photo courtesy of Daily Mail