How to Assess If You Have Perfect Posture or Not
Office jobs have their ups and downs. Sure, they are routine and comfortable, but even on the best of days, going home with a sore back from sitting in an uncomfortable office chair is never a perk. Over time, it starts to affect your posture in general, too. Next thing you know, you’re hunched over as you walk down the street, and you can’t sleep well because your back feels like it’s about to give out. If only there were a way to stop this slow progression into agony.
Wait, there is! By regularly assessing your posture, you can prevent back pain and stop the slow descent into a hunchback dead in its tracks. Checking your posture is easy and can be done from just about anywhere. If you’re not sure how to check your posture, we will teach you. All you need is a wall, your back, your arms, and a spare minute. If you are ready, let’s talk about your posture.
Why Posture Matters
Before we dive into how you can check your posture, it’s important that you understand just how important it is. Posture, or how you hold yourself, is a good indication of your health. As humans age, we tend to lose bone density and muscle mass. As our core and back muscles start to decay, it becomes harder to hold ourselves up straight. This puts added strain on our spine and spinal ligaments, causing inflammation, pain, and faster decay. By maintaining good posture, we can slow this aging process and live into old age without back pain.
Poor posture affects more than just our backs, though. It can also affect our digestive and cardiovascular systems. When we slouch, we compress our diaphragms, making it harder to breathe deeply. Over time, we start to lose lung capacity because our diaphragms no longer expand as they once did. The same goes for digestion. Slouching can cause heartburn after a meal, and it makes it more difficult for our stomachs to digest food.
How to Tell if You Should Start Assessing Your Posture
You will probably know that your posture needs work long before such extreme effects as those mentioned above set in. The most obvious sign of poor posture is a sore back and stiff joints. We tend to think that poor posture only affects the back, but it also affects our hips, shoulders, neck, and knees. What you might be mistaking for tension or stress could actually just be the result of poor posture.
Some other signs of poor posture are drowsiness and low confidence. When we fail to sit up straight, our bodies begin to go into rest mood. This can be a killer when you are trying to get some work done because it drains you of all motivation. Poor posture can also strike at our confidence. Generally, when we think of confident people, we imagine someone standing tall and proud. It’s hard to live up to that image when your shoulders are rolled forward, and your back is hunched.
If any of this sounds like you, it’s time to start assessing if you have perfect posture. At first, we recommend doing these tests every hour or so when you are at work. Not all need to be done so regularly, but you can do others at any time.
The Wall Test
This first test is a good way of testing just how bad your posture is. Start by finding a flat and open spot on the wall. Turn away from the wall and lean against it so that your back is pressed up to the wall. Try standing as tall and straight as possible and then assess which parts of your back are touching the wall.
If your shoulders, shoulder blades, head, hips, and the back of your feet all touch the wall, you have some pretty good posture. If not, this is a sign that you need to work on it. Try lifting your arms out and then bending your elbows straight up. Try to touch the backs of your wrists against the wall. If you can touch the wall, you are good, but if not, definitely start focusing on your posture.
The Palm Test
This next test is simple and can be done at any time. It works best if you are standing, as it requires your arms to hang downward. Without moving your arms, take note of your palms. Don’t look at them but notice which way they are facing. Are they turned towards the fronts of your thighs, or are they facing the sides of your legs?
Palms that face the sides of your legs indicate that your arms are hanging down by your sides. This means your shoulders are rolled back, your chest is out, and your shoulder posture is perfect. Palms that face the front of the thigh indicate that your arms are hanging in front of you. If this is the case, your shoulders have slumped forward, and you are slouching. Take a moment to raise yourself up, roll your shoulders back, and adjust your posture.
The Laying Test
This test is quite similar to the wall test but focuses more on your neck than your shoulders. Lay on a flat, hard surface, and try to press your head firmly backward. If your posture is perfect, you should be able to lay your head backward without looking up or down. If you have to look up or down, this means that your neck is out of alignment, and you should begin practicing better neck posture.
Poor neck posture is quite common among office workers who stare down at their computers all day. Always looking down to check your phone can also lead to neck strain. Be aware of these problems, and do your best to look up.
The Chair Test
This is the test that most office workers could use every hour, on the hour. It’s straightforward and doesn’t require anything more than the chair they are already sitting in. Start by assessing your nose and chin. Roughly, at what angle are they? If you are looking down rather than straight ahead, your neck posture needs adjusting. Ideally, it would help if you were looking along your natural line of sight. If not, you may need to reposition your computer screen.
Then move onto your shoulders and lower back. Just like with the wall test, assess what position your shoulders are in. Are they against the back of your chair or have they rolled forward? Try your best to sit with your shoulders against the chair and then slide your hand to your lower back. Is there a gap between your lumbar area and the chair? Trick question—there should be! The lower region of our spines naturally curves inward, so it’s ok if there is a slight gap. However, if your lower back is pressed right up against the chair, you are probably slouching and need to sit up straighter.
Last, check your feet. Don’t move them or start taking your shoes off. Just look down and assess what position they are in. Your feet should be flat on the floor, facing forward, and positioned so that your knees are at about a 90-degree angle. Sitting like this takes the pressure off your lumbar region and loosens up the hips.
How to Improve Your Posture
After taking these three quick tests, you might be left wondering how you can improve your posture if it’s not perfect. Start with some gentle exercise. Strengthening your back and core muscles is an excellent way to build internal support and improve your posture. Also, consider your mattress and pillow. If you constantly toss and turn at night, and wake up sore in the morning, your mattress is probably shifting your spine out of alignment. A firmer mattress can help your back immensely.
Also, work on your flexibility. It can feel awkward at first when you are trying to retrain your body, but by practicing a few targeted flexibility exercises, you can loosen up and realign your spine quickly. With looser joints, you’ll be able to practice good posture every day. In the beginning, good posture is as much a mental practice as it is physical. Staying mindful of how you sit and stand is the first step, and over time, your body will begin assuming a naturally positive posture.
Good Posture is Not a Losing Battle
Achieving perfect posture takes time, but it’s not difficult and certainly not impossible. For the average person, making a few small changes is enough to improve their posture. The first step is to start assessing if you have perfect posture throughout the day. When we become more aware of it, we then start actively correcting and readjusting our spines, shoulders, and necks. From there, it’s smooth sailing to painless days at the office and a more confident, happier outlook. Maintaining good posture is the key to a long life free from pain.