The following tests will help you determine your posture status, highlighting potential posture problems:
The Wall Test – Stand with the back of your head touching the wall and your heels six inches from the baseboard. With your buttocks touching the wall, check the distance with your hand between your lower back and the wall, and your neck and the wall. If you can get within an inch or two at the low back and two inches at the neck, you are close to having excellent posture. If not, your posture may need professional attention to restore the normal motion of your spine.
The Mirror Test – (Front view) Stand facing a full length mirror and check to see if: 1. your shoulders are level 2. your head is straight 3. the spaces between your arms and sides seem equal 4. your hips are level, your kneecaps face straight ahead 5. your ankles are straight. (Side View) This is much easier to do with the help of another or by taking a photo. Check for the following: 1. head is erect, not slumping forward or backwards 2. chin is parallel to the floor, not tilting up or down 3. shoulders are in line with ears, not drooping forward or pulled back 4. stomach is flat 5. knees are straight 6. lower back has a slightly forward curve (not too flat or not curved too much forward, creating a hollow back).
The ‘Ouch’ Test – Feel the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Do you find areas that are tender and sensitive? Are the buttock muscles sore when you apply pressure? What about the chest muscles? Healthy, balanced muscles should not elicit pain upon applying moderate pressure.
Lifestyle Tips for Lifelong Good Posture
- Keep your weight down – excess weight, especially around the middle, pulls on the back, weakening stomach muscles.
- Develop a regular program of exercise – regular exercise keeps you flexible and helps tone your muscles to support proper posture.
- Buy good bedding – a firm mattress will support the spine and help maintain the same shape as a person with good upright posture.
- Pay attention to injuries from bumps, falls and jars – injuries in youth may cause growth abnormalities or postural adaptations to the injury or pain that can show up later in life.
- Have your eyes examined – a vision problem can affect the way you carry yourself as well as cause eye strain.
- Be conscious of how you work – is your chair high enough to fit your desk? Do you need a footrest to keep pressure off your legs?
- Straighten Up and Stay Healthy!
What does perfect posture look like? Perfect standing posture is when the following are properly aligned–the points between your eyes, chin, collarbone, breastbone, pubic area and midpoint between your ankles; From the side, you can easily see the three natural curves in your back; From the front, your shoulders, hips and knees are of equal height; Your head is held straight, not tilted or turned to one side; From the back, the little bumps on your spine should be in a straight line down the center of your back. Obviously, no one spends all day in this position. But, if you naturally assume a relaxed standing posture, you will carry yourself in a more balanced position and with less stress in your other activities.