The following are some key points to help keep your spine functioning properly.

Standing

Try to keep the normal curves in your back at all times. High heels may cause the low back to arch excessively. Wear comfortable shoes with a good arch support.

Do

  • If you stand a lot shift positions frequently and rest one foot on a low stool or shelf. This takes the strain off the lower back.
  • If you cannot use a foot stool, stand squarely, balanced equally on both feet.
  • Try to hold your head in the neutral position looking straight ahead.
  • Keep your work close to you and at a comfortable height.

Don’t

  • Don’t stand in one place for too long.
  • Don’t bend forward with straight legs.
  • Avoid wearing high heels. The higher the heel, the greater the postural stress.

Sitting

Don’t slump, this puts undue stress on your back by overstretching muscles and ligaments. Even in a chair with good lumbar support, the natural tendency is to slump forward as the back muscles fatigue. It is essential to maintain the curve in the low back either by using a rolled up towel or a lumbar support placed at the beltline. Sit with your pelvis against the back rest and with feet flat on the floor in a chair with armrests.

The ideal office chair will have adjustable height, armrests and seat pad and back. The height should be such that your knees are level with or just slightly above the level of your hips. This will help take the pressure off your lower back. The lower border of the seat back should fall just above the belt line. The arm rests should be set so that you can comfortably rest your forearms on them while keeping your elbows bent at 90 degrees.

Do

  • Avoid sitting for prolonged periods. Take frequent breaks to stand up and stretch backwards a few times to reverse the curve in the low back.
  • Place both feet flat on the floor.
  • Sit back on the chair. It is imperative that you give your back proper support.
  • Adjust your chair so your knee is slightly higher than your hip. If your chair is not adjustable you will need a footrest.
  • Your keyboard should be just under your hands when they are stretched straight out from your elbow.

Don’t

  • Don’t sit in a chair that is too large, too high or too low.
  • Avoid leaning forward with your back arched.
  • Don’t slouch.
  • Prolonged sitting produces postural strain.

Computer Work

  • Your keyboard should sit directly in front of you.
  • The screen should be centered if you use the computer for word processing functions. For data entry, the screen may be slightly off to one side, provided the documents you will be working from are centered.
  • The top of the screen should be at eye level so that your neck is maintained in a neutral posture.
  • Place small towel rolls under your wrists to keep them in a neutral position (i.e., not forward or backward).
  • Use chair guidelines as discussed.

Driving

Do

  • Move your seat forward until your thighs rest comfortably on the seat and your feet are on the pedals.
  • Elevate the headrest until it is right behind the back of your head. This is important in case of accident.
  • Sit straight with your back against the seat back. Some cars have built-in lumbar supports. If the seat is less than adequate, your chiropractor can recommend a lumbar support.
  • Remember to keep both hands on the wheel.

Don’t

  • Don’t sit too far back. Reaching for the pedals or steering wheel strains the back. Stretching out the arms tires the upper back.

Sleeping

Sleep on a mattress that is comfortable and does not sag. The natural curves in your back and neck should be supported.

Do

  • Sleep in the fetal position on your side. Put a pillow between your knees to take the pressure off your lower back.
  • If you sleep on your back, place a pillow underneath your knees. A good cervical pillow is also recommended for under your neck to help maintain the normal cervical curvature. Ask your chiropractor about cervical pillows.
  • The best way to rise from bed is to turn on your side and then sit up sideways, using your arms to help you.

Don’t