How can I maintain correct posture during exercise?

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Edward Phillips
Physical Therapy
Few people have perfect posture, so we recommend quick posture checks before and during each exercise. If possible, look in a mirror as you do each exercise.

When an exercise calls for you to stand up straight, that means:
  • chin parallel to the floor
  • both shoulders even (roll them up, back, and down to help achieve this)
  • both arms at your sides with elbows straight and even
  • abdominal muscles pulled in
  • both hips even
  • both knees even and pointing straight ahead
  • both feet pointing straight ahead
  • body weight distributed evenly on both feet
Whether you're standing or seated, neutral posture requires you to keep your chin parallel to the floor; your shoulders, hips, and knees at even heights; and your knees and feet pointing straight ahead. A neutral spine takes into account the slight natural curves of the spine—don't flex it or arch it to overemphasize the curve of the lower back. A neutral wrist is firm and straight, not bent upward or downward. And neutral alignment means keeping your body in a straight line from head to toe except for the slight natural curves of the spine.

When angles appear in exercise instructions, try visualizing a 90-degree angle as an L or two adjacent sides of a square. To visualize a 30-degree angle, mentally slice the 90-degree angle into thirds, or picture the distance between the hands of a clock at one o'clock.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.