How we sit determines how well we stand, walk, and move. Here’s how to assess your alignment while sitting.
When you sit, how’s your alignment at your hips, lower back, shoulders, neck, and chin? In this video, SilverSneakers fitness expert David Jack explains how this quick test can give you clues about your sitting posture and risk for chronic pain.
You’ll need a chair that you usually sit in. Try the test now, then see what your results mean below. If you have a condition that affects your spine, skip the test, but check out the tips below.
If Your Hips Are Level, Lower Back Is Neutral, Shoulders and Chin Are Back, and Neck Is Aligned with the Spine
That’s a sign you have good sitting posture. If you did the total-body alignment test, you know that good alignment puts less stress on your bones, muscles, and joints, which helps protect you from pain. And it turns out, good alignment starts with how we sit—helping us stand, walk, and move better.
What else you should know: Your posture is most likely to break down when sitting or using gadgets like phones or tablets. When you sit down at the dining table, on the couch, or to exercise at the gym or in a SilverSneakers class, check in on your posture. And when using handheld devices, try to keep them at eye level. Check out more tips to fix your posture.
If Your Hips Aren’t Level, Lower Back Is Rounded, Shoulders and Chin Are Forward, and Neck Is Strained
That’s a sign you may be able to improve your sitting posture. The benefits may be surprising: Good alignment can help prevent and fix pain throughout your body—and gives your lungs more room to work, helping you breathe better.
Try these pointers:
- Choose or adjust a chair so your hips are level with your knees or slightly higher.
- Come up on your sit bones so you’re sitting tall with a neutral—not rounded or arched—back.
- Pull your shoulders and chin back so your neck is in line with your spine.
If You Have a Condition That Affects Your Spine
Talk to your doctor about what good alignment and posture look like for you. What is right for someone else may not look exactly right for you, but many of the same principles still apply. For example, if you use a wheelchair, proper positioning can help you breathe better and avoid strain in your upper body.
Your doctor can also help you find the right fitness plan. Ask these three questions:
- What types of exercise are appropriate for me?
- How often and how much should I do them?
- Are there precautions or steps I should take? If you have osteoporosis, check out these four rules for exercising with osteoporosis.
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