Maintaining good posture is important for many reasons, but it’s not easy between hunching over your computer and vegging out on the couch. In fact, many of us don’t know how bad our posture is until we catch ourselves in the mirror and see the mid-day slump that inevitably happens or start feeling lower back pain. The good news is there are things you can do to improve your posture now and set yourself up for a pain-free future.
Getting good posture is something you have to commit yourself on a daily basis. It takes help from your core, back, shoulder, and other supporting muscles to achieve, but once you’re aware of your posture (and how to correct it), eventually it will become second nature.
There are exercises you can do to begin to loosen your muscles ad build stretch to support your body correctly. The first step is knowing where you’re starting. Give yourself a posture check by standing against a wall. Place the back of your head flat against it and your heels six inches from it. In this position, your shoulder blades and butt should touch the wall, while your neck and lower back should have a gap of less than two inches.
While you’re sitting, make sure you don’t cross your legs. Keep your feet firmly planted on the floor with you head and neck in alignment so you don’t slouch. Your sitting position should be tall and upright. If you are working at a computer, make sure you position it so you don’t have to look down at the screen.
In order to improve your posture, you’re going to need to work on building your core and lower back muscles while keeping them loose and flexible. There are several stretches you can do like the child’s pose, standing forward fold, and cat/cow that can help stretch the muscles around your spine and neck. Start by doing each exercise in a row, each for one minute, and build up to two minutes per move.
To keep your core strong and engaged, add exercises to your routine specifically meant for this purpose. Plank holds, side planks, and twisting planks are all good options and can be done once each morning, working your way up to twice a day. For each move, try doing 20 reps (for side and twisting planks), working your way up to 40. For the plank hold, time yourself to see how long you can hold the move. Each day, add five seconds to your plank and, before you know it, you’ll be holding it for a minute or longer.
If you work all day on a computer, consider finding times during the day to stand. Whether that’s taking a conference call, over your lunch break, or asking about getting a standing desk, the more you can stand up and move around, the better. If you are taking a call from your phone and it’s over Zoom or FaceTime, keep your phone level with your face to avoid slouching down over your phone. “While walking, stand tall,” the Mayo Clinic says. “Inhale, roll your shoulders up and back, then exhale and roll your shoulders down, as if you are gently tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets.”
Engage in exercises like the ones above to stretches your core and also add in workouts that build your glutes and quads, as they support your core. This can be achieved by strength training, yoga, or HIIT moves that target those large groups.
According to experts at the Mayo Clinic, “Proper body alignment can help prevent excess strain on your joints, muscles and spine — alleviating pain and reducing the likelihood of injury. As a bonus, correct posture can boost your productivity and mood, as well as help you use your muscles more efficiently.”
Poor posture can cause headaches, back pain, knee, hip, and foot pain, and shoulder misalignment. It can also lead to breathing problems and fatigue. Taking steps every day to improve your posture will lead to a healthier, happier life and can be achieved in no time.
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