What is the Correct Body Alignment?

by Michelle Matte Google

About Michelle Matte

Michelle Matte is an accomplished fitness professional who holds certifications in personal training, pilates, yoga, group exercise and senior fitness. She has developed curricula for personal trainers and group exercise instructors for an international education provider. In her spare time, Matte writes fiction and blogs.

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The correct body alignment improves your personal appearance and impacts your health and well-being throughout your lifetime. The mechanics of alignment involve how your head, shoulders, spine, hips, knees and ankles line up and relate to each other, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Maintaining correct alignment puts less stress on your spine as your muscles and joints work together efficiently.

Correct Body Alignment

While standing, keep your chest high and your shoulders relaxed and pulled back slightly. Your spine, hips, knees and ankles should have symmetrical horizontal balance -- with your hips level and your knees straight ahead. Your spine should have three curves, which create shock absorption while you walk, sit or stand. The cervical curve at your neck flexes toward the front of your body. The thoracic curve bends slightly backward at the shoulder blade area, and the lumbar region of your spine should curve inward toward the front of your body at your waist area.

Sitting Alignment

While sitting, maintain the natural curves of your spine, without slouching or slumping. When sitting in a chair with a back, your shoulders and buttocks should touch the back of the chair. A small pillow behind your lumbar region can make it easier to maintain proper sitting posture. When you do not have a backrest while sitting, pull your shoulders up high and pull in your abdomen, then relax slightly for correct alignment. If you remain seated for long periods of time, adjust the height of your chair every 30 minutes and rest your arms on the armrests to prevent muscle fatigue. Keep your feet flat on the floor. To get up from a seated position, move to the front of your chair and straighten your legs, instead of bending forward from the waist.

Driving Alignment

While driving, lumbar support and using the headrest help you maintain the natural curves of your spine. Your seat height should be adjusted so that your knees are level with or slightly above your hips. The seat should also be close enough to the steering wheel to allow your knees to have a bent position when your legs are extended to reach the pedals.

Sleeping Alignment

While sleeping, assume a position that allows your spine to maintain its natural curves. The fetal position, on your side with your knees pulled up to your chest, and sleeping on your stomach are not recommended, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Instead, sleep on your side with your knees slightly bent and a pillow between them or sleep on your back with a lumbar support or a pillow under your knees.

Benefits

Correct alignment improves your health, performance and appearance. Reduced stress on your joints and muscles helps you avoid conditions such as arthritis, muscular strain and backaches. You can even improve your singing voice through correct body alignment, according to the University of Texas at Austin College of Fine Arts. With proper alignment, the muscles in your head, neck, thorax and abdomen can function optimally.

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This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.