5 tips for proper posture progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange fountain valley anaheim

Turns out your mother was right. Standing up straight IS good for you. If you have been a patient at Progressive Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation, there are two things you will always hear us say; the first is Move and the second is Good Posture is Important.

Good posture, however, is easier said than done. There are many factors that go into achieving good posture, which is really a rather general term. Suffice it to say, good posture means good health. Good posture starts with proper alignment whether you are standing, sitting, exercising, and yes even sleeping. Let’s not forget all the time spent on a smartphones and tablets.

Good posture also focuses on strengthening the smaller muscles on your body. They need to be working properly to sustain your activity through the day to help reduce pain and lead to better movement.

Over the years, many of us have picked up some bad habits when it comes to good posture. We get that and know that changes to correct those bad habits are not made over night. Simply being aware of how you stand, sit, and exercise and then relate it to pain you may be feeling can be a motivating factor in starting to make small changes, or at least seek help from a health professional or your physical therapist.

The good new is it’s never too late to start. We are here to help.

What is Posture and Why Does it Matter 

good posture is good health progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange anaheim orange county

Posture is the position in which you hold your body while standing, sitting, or lying down. Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit, and lie to place the least strain on muscles and ligaments while you are moving or performing weight-bearing activities.

Good posture keeps bones and joints in the correct alignment so that muscles are being used properly and helps you in the following ways:

  • Reduce back pain
  • Reduce neck pain and headaches
  • Helps cut down on the wear and tear of joint surfaces (such as the knee) to help prevent the onset of arthritis.
  • Decrease the strain on the ligaments in the spine.
  • Improve lung function and breathing
  • Increase digestion and circulation
  • Improve core strength that maximizes benefits of exercise
  • Prevent fatigue and helps to increase energy because muscles are being used more efficiently, which allows the body to use less energy.
  • Reduce pain from TMJ

Below are a few simple tips that may be of benefit to you for correct sitting, lifting, using a mobile device, driving, lifting, and sleeping positions.

Correct Sitting Position

Correct sitting at desk for good posture progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange anaheim orange county

Sitting for extended periods of time is a double whammy of sorts.  Firstly, it’s just not good for you and secondly, we don’t do it very well, which leads to back and neck pain, and a host of other issues. Having said that and knowing that we all live in the real world, at least try to be aware of how you are sitting, especially if your work requires you to be a desk or computer for most of the day.

  • Keep feet flat or rest them on either the floor or a footrest
  • Avoid crossing knees or ankles
  • Maintain a small gap between the back of the knees and the chair
  • Position knees at the same height or slightly lower than the hips
  • Relax the shoulders
  • Keep the forearms and knees parallel to the floor where possible
  • Hold elbows at the sides creating an L-shape in the arms
  • Sit up straight and look forward without straining the neck
  • Keep the back against the chair, or use a backrest or cushion if there are places where the back does not comfortably meet the chair, especially in the lower back region
  • Avoid sitting for long periods at a time, ideally taking at least a 5-10 minute break for every hour of sitting.

When working at a computer for long periods, a person can help improve their sitting posture by:

  • Keeping the monitor at arm’s length and no more than 2 inches above the natural line of sight
  • Customizing workspaces, for example adding backrest, footrests, or wrist pads
  • Considering a standing desk to alternate between sitting and standing
  • Using an ergonomic chair, knee chair, or a yoga ball
  • Trying out different keyboard and mouse types
  • Using a handsfree option or a headset to reduce neck strain
  • Positioning the keyboard and mouse close together to avoid reaching
  • Get up and move around occasionally, especially when experiencing any muscle or joint pain


Tech Neck 

tech neck and bad posture progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange anaheim fountain valley orange county

We are all guilty of spending too much time on mobile phones, tablets and computers and not doing it correctly which results in the common complaints of headaches, stiff necks, neck spasms, and pain between the shoulder blades. Some people say they have a hard time looking up after looking down for a long time. In severe situations you could get numbness or tingling or weakness that goes down into your arms because of a pinched nerve in your neck.

Bet you didn’t know that when your neck is positioned at 45 degrees it is the equivalent of putting 50 pounds of strain on your neck muscles. Clearly none of us are going to stop using these devices, we just need to be aware of how we are using them and try to make adjustments to avoid permanent injury.

Correct Driving Position 

correct driving position for good posture progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange anaheim fountain valley orange county

If you are one of the unfortunate people that spend a lot of time in the car, we get your pain when you exit the car after a lengthy drive. Unlike siting at a desk, you don’t have the same freedom to quickly stand up and do some stretching. If you tend to spend a significant portion of time in the car, try to make it as comfortable and as stress reducing on your body as you can. Consider spending a few minutes upon leaving the car with some simple stretches to get the blood flowing and improving your posture.

  • Use a back support (lumbar roll) at the curve of your back. Your knees should be at the same level or higher than your hips.
  • Move the seat close to the steering wheel to support the curve of your back. The seat should be close enough to allow your knees to bend and your feet to reach the pedals.

Correct Sleeping Position 

correct sleeping position progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove orange anaheim fountain valley orange county

A good night’s sleep is key to good health. How you go to bed and wake up in the morning also has a bearing on how you function during the day. We will leave that for another blog post. As far as actually sleeping there are things that can help if you have neck or back pain. No matter what position you lie in, the pillow should be under your head, but not your shoulders, and should be a thickness that allows your head to be in a normal position.

  • Try to sleep in a position that helps you maintain the curve in your back (such as on your back with a pillow under your knees or a lumbar roll under your lower back, or on your side with your knees slightly bent). Do not sleep on your side with your knees drawn up to your chest. You may want to avoid sleeping on your stomach, especially on a saggy mattress, since this can cause back strain and can be uncomfortable for your neck.
  • Select a firm mattress and box spring set that does not sag. If necessary, place a board under your mattress. You can also place the mattress on the floor temporarily if necessary. If you’ve always slept on a soft surface, it may be more painful to change to a hard surface. Take the time to find the right mattress and box spring for your needs.
  • Try using a back support (lumbar support) at night to make you more comfortable. A rolled sheet or towel tied around your waist may be helpful.
  • When standing up from the lying position, turn on your side, draw up both knees and swing your legs on the side of the bed. Sit up by pushing yourself up with your hands. Avoid bending forward at your waist.

Correct Lifting Position 

tips to lift safely progressive physical therapy costa mesa newport beach irvine lake forest garden grove anaheim orange fountain valley orange county

One of the most common complaints we hear is, “I threw my back out lifting the baby, the box, the groceries, gardening…” We’ve heard it all and yes it’s a real thing. The No. 1 mistake people make is bending over from the waist and not lowering their body to pick up the object, even if it’s a piece of paper. Perhaps these tips are the easiest to regularly follow and can save you a lot of pain and discomfort in the long run.

  • To pick up an object that is lower than the level of your waist, keep your back straight and bend at your knees and hips. Do not bend forward at the waist with your knees straight
  • Stand with a wide stance close to the object you are trying to pick up and keep your feet firm on the ground. Tighten your stomach muscles and lift the object using your leg muscles. Straighten your knees in a steady motion. Don’t jerk the object up to your body.
  • Stand completely upright without twisting. Always move your feet forward when lifting an object.
  • If you are lifting an object from a table, slide it to the edge to the table so that you can hold it close to your body. Bend your knees so that you are close to the object. Use your legs to lift the object and come to a standing position.
  • Hold packages close to your body with your arms bent. Keep your stomach muscles tight. Take small steps and go slowly.
  • To lower the object, place your feet as you did to lift, tighten stomach muscles and bend your hips and knees.

These recommendations will benefit most people who have back or neck pain or are just trying to get healthier. Remember, none of us are perfect. Sometimes, just making small changes can have a positive impact. If any of these suggestions cause an increase of pain or the spreading of pain to the legs, stop the activity and seek the advice of a healthcare provider or your physical therapist. If you have been told you have a serious posture problem or looking to improve your health and need more specific advise and a rehabilitation plan, we are always here to help.

We are Here to Help Get You Started to Better Health.
Contact us Today!

Garden Grove/

Costa Mesa/
Newport Beach:

Irvine/Lake Forest: