Stanford University

Postural Awareness

You should aim to put your body in a position of power. When the human movement system is in proper alignment, stress is minimized on the tissues, muscles can produce force efficiently, breathing and circulation of bodily fluids are optimal. To put it simply, the body can function at its best! The desired position we all seek to achieve is referred to as ‘neutral’. It is the natural resting harmony of our joints. How the body comes to rest is important. Posture can help us understand movement and plays a huge role in our nonverbal communication. Take a look at the difference below.

Adult standing and demonstrating good and bad posture

What should you look for?

Posture Checklist

  • Set the arch of the foot so your weight is evenly distributed
  • Align the second and third toe with the knees
  • Hips should be neutral with your rib cage tucked down
  • Natural spine – avoid hunching, extension and reaching
  • The shoulders should be drawn down and back
  • Center your head on the shoulders
  • Chin should be tucked – not up or down, but right in the middle
  • Keep the eyes forward

The following tips may reduce your risk of developing back pain or impairment over time:

  • Move! Movement is the best medicine for your spine.
  • Maintain the natural curve in your back as much as possible, especially when lifting or sitting.
  • Exercise regularly to promote overall musculoskeletal strength and endurance, enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, improve body composition, and maintain flexibility.
  • Sleep, nutrition and recovery are critical to a healthy back! Purchase a supportive mattress and pillows if necessary.
  • Use equipment to help ease back stress. Bags and backpacks allow you to maintain balance and center the load close to the body. Avoid carrying heavy loads in backpacks.
  • Alter your position frequently for prolonged standing and sitting, by:
    • Resting your foot on a step while standing.
    • Standing up from time to time to prevent prolonged sitting.
    • Taking breaks during long drives.
    • Removing your wallet from your back pocket while sitting.


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