Proper Posture Pays Off

As young students, we seldom think about making choices for the sake of our health later on in life. We thrive on eating Late Night, binge drinking Keystone and staying up way too late. But a less significant poor decision we make is something simple that we do every day: sitting down.

Take a second and think about how you are sitting right now as you read this article. Would you say that you are sitting with good, proper posture? If you are like most undergraduate students here at Boston College, the answer is probably "no." Sitting with good posture may seem lame or like way too much work, but it is an easy thing we can do to set ourselves up for a happy, pain-free future.

This image illustrates proper posture while working at a computer desk.  Photo courtesy of Tumblr

This image illustrates proper posture while working at a computer desk.Photo courtesy of Tumblr 

Before describing what the proper sitting posture should be, let’s define what posture is so we know what we are trying to accomplish. According to the Cleveland Clinic’s webpage, posture can be described as “the position in which you hold your body upright against gravity,” and more importantly that good posture can be achieved by “training your body” so that “the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during movement or rest.” Basically, what they are saying is that sitting without good posture puts unnecessary strain on your body that could end up hurting you in the long run.

It’s easy to explain how sitting with good posture prevents old-people problems like lower back pain and arthritis, but those aren’t really concerns of young people like us. Good posture while sitting has additional benefits that people of all ages can appreciate.

The Cleveland Clinic explains that sitting with an aligned spine keeps bones and joints in their proper place, which allows muscles to be used more efficiently. This, in turn, prevents fatigue, as your muscles are using less energy. They also explain that sitting with correct posture contributes to a better appearance. Imagine being able to stay awake during your 75-minute lecture and looking good while doing it!

Photo courtesy of Flood G. / Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flood G. / Flickr

Now that we’ve established why you should sit with good posture, let’s talk about how to do so. A lot of experts describe different ways to achieve good posture, but they all have the same general formula:

  • Feet planted flat and firmly on the ground.
  • Buttocks touching the back of the chair.
  • Shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Ears, shoulders and hips in alignment, allowing the spine to achieve its natural “S” shape.
  • Knees bent at a 90°

If you have already mastered these moves, or just want to make the most of your sitting experience, the experts at the NIH have some key tips:

  • Try to adjust your sitting position every 30 minutes or so.
  • It’s best to keep your feet on a low stool or a stack of books.
  • If you don’t have a chair with lumbar support (it’s ok, no one really knows what that is), put a rolled up towel or a pillow at the small of your back.

There you have it--all the tools you need in order to change your lazy habits and start making healthy decisions that will positively impact your future. Sitting with proper posture will help you look and feel good for the rest of your life.

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