Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture

Awareness is Key to Healthy Posture
Information Resources

By Evelyn Cunico, MA, MS/LIS
Posted September 01, 2017

What is Posture?

Two types of posture are dynamic posture and static posture.

Dynamic posture is defined as how you position your body while you are moving, such as when you are walking or bending over to pick up something.

Static posture refers to how you hold your body when you are not moving, such as when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.

Posture involves your musculoskeletal system, which includes your bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, and nerves that connect the parts of your body.

Why is Posture Important?

Posture is important because scientists are finding that the ways you hold your body while going through your day affect your health over a lifetime.

For example, holding your body and moving in unhealthy ways may lead to back, neck, and shoulder pain. In any three-month period, about one in four adults in the U.S. has at least one day of back pain, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Poor posture can decrease your flexibility, how well your joints move, and your balance. Slumped posture can make it more difficult to digest the food you eat and to breathe comfortably.

Some research suggests a link between posture and mental health, according to NIH researchers. For example, scientists are exploring the connections between posture and how the brain thinks and processes information.

Awareness is Key

When you are learning how to become aware of your posture, it is best to begin with small steps. NIH researchers suggest that you become mindful (that is, aware) of how you hold your body and how you move. The following suggestions are steps in the right direction.

  • When you walk, become aware that lifting your head will improve your posture and may increase your confidence.
  • When you walk or sit, become aware that pulling back your shoulders will help you to feel more comfortable.
  • In everyday situations, become aware that tightening your abdominal muscles will strengthen them and lead to greater flexibility.
  • When sitting in front of a computer, become aware that stretching your muscles gently and taking brief walks around the office will increase your energy and will help to straighten your posture.
  • Become aware of how your weight may affect your posture. Overweight weakens your abdominal muscles, contributing to poor posture and low back pain.

Medical doctors, physical therapists, and other healthcare providers can give you feedback on how you are moving.

Ask your medical doctor about the types of physical activity that may help you to become more aware of your posture, so that you can maintain your health and mobility over your lifetime.

Disclaimer: The information presented in this blog should not replace the medical advice of your doctor. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any disease, illness, or other health condition without first consulting with your medical doctor or other healthcare provider.

Selected Information Resources

American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. OrthoInfo. Warm Up, Cool Down, and Be Flexible.
Summary Note: Discusses flexibility and balance training as part of a fitness program. Describes sample stretching exercises with accompanying images of correct postures.
(Accessed 28 August 2017)

American Chiropractic Association. Tips to Maintain Good Posture.
Summary Note: Directions help you to move toward a healthier body posture. Includes instructions on how to correct your posture when standing, sitting, and lying down.
(Accessed 11 August 2017)

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. August 2017. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Getting It Straight. Improve Your Posture for Better Health.
Summary Note: Article focuses on news interview clips from NIH physical therapists and researchers. Body awareness and mindfulness (that is, awareness) can help you to learn how to feel what is wrong in your posture, so that you can improve both your physical movement and your emotional state.

National Institutes of Health. NIH News in Health. December 2016. A monthly newsletter from the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Tai Chi and Your Health: A Modern Take on an Ancient Practice.
Summary Note: Discusses the flowing postures and gentle movements of tai chi, also called, moving meditation. Focuses on improving posture, confidence, and mood.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

Nemours Foundation. KidsHealth. TeensHealth. Backpack Basics.
Summary Note: Discusses health benefits and problems when using backpacks for school books and supplies. Cautions that not using a backpack properly can lead to bad posture.
(Accessed 27 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. Workplace Safety and Health. Easy Ergonomics: A Guide to Selecting Non-Powered Hand Tools.
Summary Note: Booklet offers advice on how to prevent musculoskeletal disorders caused by hand tool use in occupational settings. Suggests work tools that require the least continuous force and can be used without awkward work postures. Includes checklist for hand tool selection.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthfinder dot Gov. Prevent Back Pain.
Summary Note: Practical advice on how to strengthen your back muscles. Lists risk factors for back pain. Includes section on how Good Posture Can Help Prevent Back Pain.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)

U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Computer Workstations e-Tool. Good Working Positions.
Summary Note: Describes office environment sitting and standing postures that reduce strain on your muscles, tendons, and skeletal system to decrease your risk of developing musculoskeletal disorders. Website tabs link to discussions on positioning of your desk, keyboard, and mouse/pointer, to maintain healthy body postures.
(Accessed 26 August 2017)