What is posture?
Posture is used to describe the position your body is in when you are sitting, standing, kneeling and lying down.
Why is posture important?
Maintaining good posture ensures your body is in good alignment and that stress on your muscles, joints and ligaments are distributed evenly across your body. Poor posture can cause increased strain on your body, leading to fatigue, tight or achy muscles in your neck, back, arms and legs, joint stiffness and pain.
Sitting with good posture during handwriting tasks, is therefore very important and while most issues with handwriting are often associated with poor fine motor skills or difficulties with pencil grip, the impact of good sitting posture and core strength are often overlooked.
Signs of poor posture or poor core strength:
- Slouching back in chair
- Leaning forward close to the paper
- Constant movement or shifting positions
- Resting head in non-dominant hand or on the table
- Dangling non-dominant arm/hand beside body instead of stabilising the paper
- Poor balance in chair
- Fatigue or complaints of tiredness
What does correct sitting posture for handwriting look like?
- Feet flat on the floor
- Thighs parallel to floor and knees at a 90 degree angle
- Back up straight, inclined towards the desk and pivoted from the hips
- Forearms resting on desk with elbows level with the desktop at 90 degrees
- Paper stabilised with non-dominant hand
- Neck and shoulders relaxed
- Body faces desk squarely so non-dominant arm can support body weight
- Paper tilted to the up to the right (if right handed) or up to the (if left handed)
Alex from our Pymble clinic demonstrates the correct posture whilst working at a desk.
Other things to consider:
Wearing appropriate footwear that fits properly and provides good support, ensuring glasses are worn if required for short distance (writing, reading and other table top tasks) and participating in a few minutes of core strengthening exercises, such as crab walks, bridging, trampolining, wheelbarrow walks, prone extension or tummy curls etc. during transition times. Things such as, the table height, chair height, backrests, the amount of space between the front of the seat and the calf of the leg, removal of items from back pockets of trousers (e.g. wallet or keys) and types of cushions should also be considered, as well as taking frequent rest breaks allowing you to get up and stretch or move around throughout long periods of sitting.
Tips for good posture in the classroom or homework study space:
- Visual cue cards: providing a picture of what good posture looks like displayed on a child’s desk or on the whiteboard can be a visual reminder each time a child is seated at their desk.
- Posture songs: 1 2 3 4 are my feet flat on the floor, 5 6 7 8 is my back up nice and straight, 9 10 11 12 is my pencil correctly held, 13 14 15 16 now I am ready to start writing.
- Slope board: his can be used for children who slump over their work as it encourages them to sit up straighter and to keep their head a good distance from the paper. These are also useful for children who apply too much pressure when writing as the board supports the weight of the writing arm freeing up the fingers to move at ease.
- Movement breaks: encouraging a child to get up and move during transition times to ensure they don’t become fatigued while also reducing the stress on their bodies
- ‘Sit-and-move’ cushions: these are particularly helpful for children who move around a lot on their chair or sit with poor posture. These cushions encourage correct sitting posture while also providing sensory feedback through your arms and legs.
- Weighted blankets resting on legs: These provide proprioceptive input to a child’s legs, helping to reduce frequent movements while also physically prompting a child to remember to keep their legs/feet in a good position.
- Regular physical activity: participation in sports such as little athletics, swimming, gymnastics, yoga, soccer and dancing are great ways to increase core strength which is essential to maintaining good sitting posture for extended periods of time.
Here, Alex shows us how to place his hands whilst at work.
Photo’s courtesy of Alex.