Tips for Improving Posture with a Spinal Cord Injury

Sitting with correct posture is an important part of staying healthy, especially for people with SCI. Discover the best methods for maintaining good posture after a spinal cord injury.

Tips for Improving Posture with a SCI

Tips for Improving Posture with a SCI

Most people with spinal cord injuries have paralyzed torso muscles, which makes maintaining posture quite difficult, but other factors can contribute to poor posture as well, like your feet being in the wrong position or using the wrong seat cushion.

Everything is connected when it comes to good posture in a wheelchair.

Basic Back Brace

Sometimes you need to start with what you're wearing to maintain good posture with a spinal cord injury, and one of the best ways to do this is by wearing some kind of back brace.

There are hundreds of back braces to choose from on sites like Amazon. Make sure to search for one that doesn't leave too many marks on the body and is adjustable.

Some back braces help adjust for scoliosis as well while others say they help specifically with posture. Try a few to find one that works, and make sure to wear it whenever you are in your wheelchair.

Custom Backrest

If you have access to a seating clinic, there is nothing that can compare to a custom-made backrest when it comes to correct posture, which therapists can create by taking a mold of your back.

If you have curves in your back, a custom backrest can push back on these specific areas as well and even help improve your posture over time as you use it.

Some customized backrests will also come with side supports to help you maintain good posture throughout the day.

Contoured Backrest

If you are unable to get a customized backrest, try buying a different wheelchair backrest style to see if it makes a difference. Many people swear by contoured backrests.

This style of backrest extends on the sides of the user, looks like side flaps, and provides additional torso support.

Choose the Right Seat

When you sit in a wheelchair, the seat itself can have a huge impact on your posture. The seat must be firm enough so that you feel supported.

If the seat cushion is too wide, it can cause the user to sit in "non-symmetrical" postures. If the seat is too narrow, it can cause skin issues and discomfort.

Most importantly the seat itself must not be too short or too long, as both of these can lead to issues such as exerting too much pressure on the buttocks or creating excessive tension behind the knee.

When the seat is the correct size, the weight of the person in the wheelchair is distributed evenly, helping secure their pelvis and maintain good posture.

To make sure that the seat position is correct, always make sure that a two-finger length gap between the back of the knee and the seat is present.

Footplate Position

One area that many people don't realize that can have a huge impact on your posture is your feet and how they are supported on your wheelchair footplate.

Your feet support part of your weight and help provide stability for your pelvis. If your feet are not supported well, your whole body can be put out of alignment.

To make sure your feet have good support, always make sure that the height does not put your knees is not too high in the air, and that your feet are flush on the footplate, and not dangling.

And if your feet are too far forward, this can tilt your pelvis and cause slouching.

Backrest Height

Depending on your level of spinal cord injury, you will want to make sure you have the correct backrest height.

If your backrest height is too high or too low, your body will not feel stabilized in the wheelchair and cause poor posture.

For example, if someone with paralyzed torso muscles has a backrest that’s too low, they will not be able to sit straight nor will they have good back support, which will lead to bad posture.

Armrest Position

The placement of armrests on a wheelchair can have a significant impact on your posture, as armrests help the neck muscles relax, not the arms.

When put in the correct position, the armrest will support the elbows at 90°. If they're not in the correct position, you can cause stress to your neck and shoulders.

And, if they are placed too low, it can lead to poor posture or worse, falling out of one's wheelchair.

Head Placement

Having your head aligned properly with your body is essential to good posture in a wheelchair.

Try to keep your head in a central position to support the natural line of your neck.

If your head is out of alignment, your spine will be too, which can lead to bad posture.

Exercise & Stretching

If you are able, stretching and exercising regularly can help with posture.

A great posture exercise is sitting upright and trying to touch your shoulder blades together behind your back.

Daily stretching and participating in sports can help with your posture as well.

Topics: Health & Exercise

Stay Updated on Advancements On Traumatic Brain &
Spinal Cord Injuries

New Call-to-action