10 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Posture While Teaching

Teachers employ many tools in their teaching repertoire, but none is perhaps so important as their bodies. Pointing, gesturing, bending, and demonstrating, a teacher’s every move is calculated to facilitate learning. With all that movement, however, comes a higher risk of injury and pain due to poor posture. The good news is that adjustments to teacher posture can prevent most work-related body strains with these simple posture-promoting adjustments to their daily activities. 

1. Practice safe sitting for better teacher posture.

Spending too much time sitting behind their desks has never been a concern for many teachers. As Frank McCourt wrote in his memoir Teacher Man, “when the actor sits down, the play sits down.” Teachers have been too busy performing one-man shows for their students to consider the dangers of remaining seated for a large portion of the workday. With the current propulsion into virtual learning, however, teaching is becoming something many educators have never experienced—a desk job. This video offers sound advice on setting up an ergonomic workstation to mitigate the new body stressors of teaching across a computer screen. Here are the main takeaways. Use a chair with lumbar support. Adjust the chair so that the feet remain flat and the thighs parallel to the floor. Keep the monitor at eye level and an arm’s length away. Place the keyboard low enough to keep the wrists parallel to the thighs and free from the risk of over-extending.

2. Take a healthy stance.

Since advances in technology have tied an increasing number of employees to their desks, most of the discourse on correct posture in the workplace centers on the aforementioned measures of sitting safely. For teachers in the face-to-face classroom, however, the prospect of sitting during the workday remains a coveted yet rare opportunity. These teachers continue to grapple with the painful reality of standing before and moving among their students for the large majority of the school day. For teachers who work on their feet, it is important to practice proper standing and bending techniques. These include pulling the shoulders back and aligning the feet to match shoulder width, keeping the body’s weight balanced evenly on both feet, maintaining a slight bend in the knees, and using an ergonomic chair to lower oneself to the students’ level.

3. Forget the fancy footwear.

Proper posture begins from the ground up. While teacher dress codes often mandate the use of dress shoes, high-heeled or flimsy shoes just don’t provide the support that teachers need and can worsen teacher posture. The best shoes for teaching provide support with some sort of fastening, a slight heel, and a cushioned insole. 

4. Rethink the teacher tote bag.

While bringing work home is sometimes unavoidable, breaking teachers’ backs in the process doesn’t have to be. Researchers recommend that teachers limit their nightly workload to 10 percent of their body weight and opt for two-strap backpacks to maintain their center of gravity and reduce postural sway. 

5. Breathe deep for back support.

Today’s teaching climate can sometimes be a whirlwind of high emotions and emphatic explanations. In times of high stress or excessive talking, teachers may be swept up into a pattern of shallow breathing that tightens the muscles in the chest and rounds the shoulders and neck forward. The long periods of sitting inherent in virtual teaching can exacerbate the effects of shallow breathing and further weaken the muscles of the back. Deep breathing can restore core stability and alleviate upper body tension to promote correct posture.

6. Use posture-purposeful physical activity.

Teachers now have one more reason not to put off exercise in favor of another hour of grading and planning. The right combination of stretches, yoga poses, pilates moves, and strength training can help improve teacher posture issues. Teachers can also attain other fitness goals while correcting posture. 

7. Take breaks.

Teachers don’t need to launch into a full-scale workout to reap the benefits of physical activity. For a quick on-the-job break, teachers can employ several office yoga moves. Yoga resets lax posture, stimulates blood flow, and reinvigorates both the body and the mind.

8. Sit in stillness to stand in confidence.

As anyone who has tried meditation can attest, posture is the backbone of a successful meditation practice. But while a straight spine is a precursor to a mindful sitting, meditation boasts off-the-cushion benefits on posture as well. Regular practice of meditation relaxes the mind, which then eases up stress reactions in the body. When peace and calm prevail in the mind and body, muscles that customarily tighten up due to stress can relax and open, leading to better posture. Try one of these free mindfulness and meditation apps.

9. Get the gadgets.

While it is usually possible to improve teacher posture without the use of external mechanisms, some may prefer to purchase a product that has their backs when their own efforts slide. From high-tech options to simple wardrobe tweaks, teachers can pinpoint the gadgets that meet their budgets and posture-perfecting needs.

10. Work with a medical professional.

When all else fails, or if bad posture is a major health concern, or simply as a preventative wellness measure, teachers should consult with their primary doctors, chiropractors, or specialists to outline the best posture correction intervention for them. 

Teachers don’t just pour their hearts and souls into their teaching; they put their whole bodies into it as well. But to keep utilizing that vital instrument in their instruction, teachers must ensure that they have put proper posture practices into place. Making these small tweaks in their teaching body language can speak volumes in terms of both teachers’ health and the effectiveness of their instruction.


10 Simple Tricks to Improve Your Posture While Teaching

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Melisa Ferguson
Melisa is a mom, world language teacher, and self-care enthusiast.
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