Sit up straight, don’t slouch! Your parents or teachers have probably said that to you at least once in the past. We know what good posture is and looks like, but have trouble emulating it. Sometimes it’s genetics, but more often than not, it is probably just some bad habits picked up over time. This is especially true for those of you with sedentary jobs where you are sitting at a desk for hours at a time. Not to worry, we have some easy to follow tips that will help improve posture support.
First, what is proper posture? Well to make it easy we have a sitting posture and standing posture picture each. When seated, ergonomic setup is important (more on that below); but in general do not hunch your lower back, keep your head aligned (i.e. don’t let your chin and head float forward), and keep your shoulders back. When standing, stay aligned by not allowing your chin/head to float forward and do not allow your body to slouch. The pictures below demonstrate this fairly well.
Focus on Proper Posture:
One of the most important aspects of improving your posture is to be acutely aware of your posture so you can take action to straighten up immediately. With the millions of other things going on in your head, triggers or reminders are necessary. This is why a posture brace or bra is very effective – while they do provide extra posture support, they also provide a reminder mechanism to “sit up straight”. One trick is to carry or wear a reminder mechanism – for example, wear a string bracelet or “ring” and every time you notice it or feel, remind yourself to assume correct posture. You could also stamp your hand lightly or color it with marker – anything out of the ordinary that provides a reminder when you see it. For those of you on computers, you can get freeware “break reminder” software that alarms every 15-30m. These ideas may sound gimmicky, but they work!
If you want real long term posture improvement results, you absolutely need to strengthen your upper back and shoulder muscles. This does not mean you have start lifting weights at the gym, though that certainly would help. Basic exercises at home will do nicely. We have listed a couple exercises to improve posture but you find many more on the web until we add more. As your muscle strength improves, you can withstand much more muscle fatigue, a major factor in succumbing to poor posture. Another option people love is yoga – not only do you build strength, you improve flexibility and generally feel better overall.
Correct Sitting Posture:
If you work a desk job and are stuck typing or reading for long periods of time, look into getting an ergonomic assessment. Many companies offer these for free now. Sitting in proper position makes it much, much easier to maintain proper seating posture. If you cannot get a professional, then read up on it and make the adjustments yourself. A couple of things that we have seen really help are a lumbar roll for your chair and a chair with a rear-headrest so there is less pressure on your neck. Finally, get up and walk around every 15-30m minimum if you can.
Posture Support Brace or Bra:
Finally, a very popular option is to utilize a posture brace or posture bra. We cover these extensively on this site and encourage you to learn more. To summarize, they are devices that both provide that “posture reminder” while also provide extra support in your upper back and shoulders. They can definitely work, especially when combined with exercise. Just don’t expect one to solve your back pain issues overnight.
Improving your posture is not easy – you have to focus on it and constantly remind yourself to stay in proper alignment. That said, over time, your muscle strength and endurance will improve and muscle memory will teach your body to have proper posture. Commit and focus, and you will improve your posture.
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