Correct Posture When Performing CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a critical lifesaving skill that can significantly improve the chances of survival for individuals experiencing cardiac arrest.

While many people are trained in CPR techniques, the importance of proper posture during CPR cannot be overstated.

Correct posture not only enhances the effectiveness of chest compressions but also minimizes the risk of injury to both the rescuer and the victim.

The following guidance is assuming that the casualty is an adult, lying flat on the floor.

The Significance of Posture in CPR

The effectiveness of CPR hinges on the ability to provide adequate chest compressions to maintain blood flow to vital organs.

Proper posture plays a pivotal role in achieving sufficient depth and rate of compressions, ensuring optimal circulation and oxygenation to the brain and other organs.

Additionally, maintaining the correct posture reduces fatigue and allows the rescuer to perform CPR more effectively for an extended period if needed. Poor posture may result in injuries, especially if you are performing CPR for an extended period.

Positioning of the Rescuer

Kneel beside the victim, ensuring that your shoulders are in line with the casualty’s chest.

You should be a little less than arms-length away from the casualty. Not only does this allow you to use your body weight effectively for compressions, it also allows you to lower down to deliver rescue breaths without having to shuffle your body around or bend at an awkward angle.

Knees should be spread to shoulder width to help you maintain a stable and balanced stance, and to provide maximum leverage for chest compressions.

Hand Placement

Place the heel of one hand (usually the dominant hand) on the centre of the casualty's chest, right on the middle of the sternum.

Ensure that the other hand is placed directly on top of the first hand. You may choose to interlock your fingers, have the hands flat, or have the upper hand supporting the wrist of the lower hand – whatever is most comfortable for you.

Note that the hands should be at right angles to the sternum, so that your fingers would be touching the casualty’s ribs. Be careful to not allow your hands to twist, or your fingers to palpate the liver/stomach at the lower end of the ribs.

Arm Position

Keep your arms straight and perpendicular to the victim's chest.

Position your shoulders directly above your hands to facilitate effective transfer of force during compressions.

Maintain a slight bend at the elbows to prevent hyperextension and reduce the risk of fatigue.

Ensure you are not using your arm or chest muscles for compressions – rather, you should use your body weight.

Body Alignment

Keep your back straight and the torso aligned with your arms and hands.

Engage your core muscles to provide stability and support during chest compressions.

Avoid hunching or arching your back, as this can diminish the force applied to the chest.

Compression Technique

Depress the casualty’s chest to a third of the chest depth with each compression, allowing for adequate recoil between compressions.

Ensure a compression rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, maintaining a steady rhythm.

Allow the chest to fully recoil after each compression to facilitate blood flow back to the heart.

Benefits of Proper CPR Posture

  • Enhanced effectiveness of chest compressions, leading to improved outcomes for the casualty.
  • Reduced risk of musculoskeletal injuries for the rescuer, such as strains and sprains.
  • Increased endurance, allowing the rescuer to sustain CPR efforts for longer durations without fatigue.
  • Improved coordination and consistency in delivering compressions, resulting in more reliable circulation support for the casualty.


Maintaining the correct posture is essential for performing effective CPR and maximizing the chances of survival for individuals experiencing cardiac arrest.

By following the guidelines outlined in this article, rescuers can ensure optimal positioning and technique for adult casualties, thereby enhancing the quality of chest compressions and minimizing the risk of injury.

Continuous training and practice are key to mastering proper CPR posture and improving overall proficiency in lifesaving interventions.

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