Stanford University

Postural Awareness

Sit, stand, and walk tall – imagine running a plumb line from your ears, through your shoulders, down to your hips.

  • Keep the head on the shoulders
  • Avoid hunching and reaching
  • The shoulders should be relaxed, elbows resting at the sides

Avoid overly bent or rotated joints

  • Head facing forward
  • Shoulders relaxed, elbows at sides
  • Wrists straight

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

  • Always maintain the natural curve in your back, especially when lifting or sitting; the back is best supported when in a neutral posture.
  • 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.
  • Exercise regularly to promote overall musculoskeletal strength and endurance, enhance cardiorespiratory fitness, improve body composition, and maintain flexibility.
  • Purchase a supportive mattress and pillows if necessary.
  • Use bags and backpacks that hold loads close to the body, distribute forces evenly, and have wide straps. Do not carry heavy loads in backpacks. Backpacks with a waist belt are ideal to help further distribute the load.

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