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What Defines "Good Posture" and Does it Matter?

Bad posture is can contribute to a myriad of issues: headaches, neck pain, low back pain, eye strain, tension, etc.. Good and bad posture are terms that are used often, and are generally considered "simple" things, but it is far from simple because our bodies are not simple. Age, gender, work duties, injury history, genetics, and personal habits all contribute to alignment and movement patterns. Finding your best, good posture can more be complicated than you think!

Read more about posture and it's link to chronic pain:

If 10 physical therapists are in a room and are asked to define "good posture", you may be surprised at the variety of responses. A similar response variety is expected if the question changes to "what's the best computer chair?" or "what's the best mattress?". A good physical therapist is trained to assess what is the best posture, chair, or mattress specific to you, your medical history, and your needs and goals. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all to finding the "best" posture, chair, or mattress.

Generally speaking, "good posture" is defined as good alignment of your joints and spine. Certain positions tend to increase strain through cartilage, joint capsules, muscles, ligaments and tendons while other positions can "unload" these important body structures. But holding good alignment for an 8 hour work day can be hard, if not impossible! That is where an ergonomic work station set-up comes into play. Many large companies have contracts with ergonomic specialists (such as physical therapists!) that can help you set up your work station to help you achieve your best and most comfortable work position. Because if you're in pain, it's hard to do your job effectively and efficiently.

If you aren't lucky enough to have an ergonomic specialist at your job you can start with these basic steps:

  1. Lower your seat so your feet are firmly planted flat on the ground.

  2. Your knees should be at 90 degrees.

  3. Your butt should be touching the back of the chair.

  4. Your upper back/bottom of your shoulder blades should be resting against the chair.

  5. The arm rests should be adjusted so your elbow rest comfortably on them without leaning forward or shrugging your shoulders.

  6. The keyboard should be at a level that you don't have to reach or lean forward.

  7. The computer screen should be 1-2 inches below eye level. *If you have a laptop it is impossible to accomplish steps 6 & 7 unless you have a separate keyboard.

  8. If you find yourself squinting at the screen, visit your eye doctor and have your eyes checked.

The key is to have the chair do most of the work so you don't have to. It may take several tries on various chairs and various adjustments to find the ideal position for you.

My favorite adjustable chair I recommend to my patients (scroll to Lifestyle Products):

"Good posture" looks different for everyone but it is important! What works for someone might cause you increase in pain. We are built differently and how we move and function varies greatly - there is no "one size fits all"!

Need more help with your posture, work station set-up, and finding a way to feel better?

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