Taking Care of Your Posture
To avoid aches and pains and to keep active it is important to look after our posture when sitting, standing and lying down. This can be more difficult if you have a health condition or difficulties with movement. If left unchecked poor posture can cause changes to our body shape which can affect mobility, breathing and digestion and cause joint or muscle pain. For example; if you stay in a curled up position in bed all night without changing position, it can make it more difficult to sit up straight in a chair or stand up straight during the day:
How Can Changes to Body Shape Can Be prevented?
Change Your Position Often
In your bed: If you can move in bed but tend to sleep in one position; curled up, or on your front or with your legs swept over to the side, you should change position frequently to stop that shape becoming fixed. Stretching in bed is also helpful; move to lie on your back and stretch out into as flat and straight a position as possible.
Equipment to help: Bed grab handles and slide sheets may make it easier to change position in bed. See ‘Taking Care in bed’ for equipment to help you move in bed.
If you are unable to move in bed, support cushions or an adjustable bed or a sleep system may support you in a healthier position.
In your armchair: Change your position frequently when sitting. If you can stand from the chair, stretch up as tall as possible and then sit back down with your bottom at the back of the seat and arms on each armrest. If standing isn’t safe for you, try seated stretching exercises to help prevent your body shape becoming fixed. See chair exercises in ‘Taking Care When Seated’.
Equipment to help: Support cushions may help you to sit up in a healthier position in the chair. A chair that is a better fit for you may help you to maintain a good posture and prevent shape changes. If you can stand from your chair, a sturdy walking frame may help to support you when you are standing up as straight as possible. Standing equipment with a footplate and knee supports can be used by your carer to help you to stand from your chair and stretch.
Seated exercises while sitting safely in your chair will help to stretch muscles and move joints.
Walking as tall as possible while looking ahead, rather than looking down at the ground, is a simple way to stretch and move your joints through their full range of comfortable movement.
Equipment to help: The right walking equipment will help you to stand up straighter and walk with more confidence, looking forwards instead of looking down.
If you are concerned about changes to your posture or body shape, ask a physiotherapist or occupational therapist for advice about equipment and exercises to help maintain a healthy posture.