What do we mean by posture?

graphic showing posture seating up straight in chair

People who find it hard to move are at risk of their body shape changing.  This is because they often sit and lie in limited positions and are dependent on others for their position changes.

Why can posture be a problem?

Body shape changes can have a serious effect on a person’s health and quality of life.

Watch this animation to see some of the ways in which posture can affect breathing and digestion.

  1. Breathing can be more difficult – this is because, over time, as your chest shape changes, your lungs have less space to work properly
  2. Digestion and constipation can become problematic – this is because an altered body shape can make it more difficult for food and drink to travel through your body
  3. Pressure issues can occur– this is because there may be more weight going through certain parts of the body, whilst other parts are unsupported
  4. It can be difficult to sit or lie comfortably
  5. All of these things can cause a lot of pain and discomfort

Body shape changes can be prevented

With supportive positioning, body shape can be protected and even corrected in some cases.

Graphic to represent postural management

Your posture can be supported in a number of ways:

graphic showing a wheelchair

Your wheelchair

graphic showing a symmetrikit chair

The chair you use

graphic showing someone asleep in bed

Your night-time or lying position

Graphic showing different postural care equipment like cushions, raisers for shoes or leg splints

Other posture care equipment

This is known as 24-hour postural care.

Posture during the day and at nighttime

graphic showing daytime

During the day or when you are awake

  • If you have a wheelchair with postural support, that should support your posture when you are in it.
  •  It is important to make sure that your posture is supported when you are out of your wheelchair too.
  •  If you need postural support, sitting or laying in unsupported positions for long periods should be avoided.
  • If you have been provided with a wheelchair or armchair that has been set up for you, use that one.
  • Sit as well as you can in the seating you have, Your bottom should be positioned towards the back of the seat. 
  • Do not slouch or lean
  • Do not sit in a chair that is too big or small for you
  • You may need support to be repositioned regularly throughout the day to maintain a good posture.  This is especially important after you have been traveling in a vehicle. 
graphic showing night outside window and bed

During the night or when you are in bed

  • Your Physiotherapist may have recommended that you use a sleep system to support your posture.
  • There are many different kinds of sleep-system but they all help to support your body in a comfortable position and protect your body shape.
  • You may not have a sleep system but there are still things that you can do to protect your posture.
  • When you are laying down you should be as straight as possible.
  • If you slide to one side or the other, pillows can be used to support you
  • Pillows and rolled-up towels can also be used to support your legs.

If your posture is well supported you will be able to:

  • Breath more easily
  • Enjoy your mealtimes more
  • Have a better quality of sleep and wake less frequently during the night
  • Wake feeling rested and with more energy
  • Experience less pain

Find out more about posture

You can find out more information about posture on the Public Health England Postural Care Guidance website page.