With so many of us sitting all day long on computers, at our desks and using our handheld devices it's not surprising that our posture is suffering. But did you know that poor posture is more than just a nuisance, it can cause heartburn and indigestion too? It can also make you shorter!
From bad habits like slouching to being unaware of proper seat height, we'll cover eight ways to improve your posture starting today and for the future.
1. Keep Your Shoulders Back and Down
Many people tend to hunch their shoulders forward which can cause tension in the neck and upper back. To correct this, try to keep your shoulders back and down, away from your ears. This will help to open up your chest and improve your breathing.
2. Mom Was Right! Sit (and Stand) up Straight
It sounds simple but many of us aren't even aware that we're not sitting up straight or even standing up straight. It's easy to fall into a habit of slouching and rounding our backs while we're sitting at a computer, on the couch or even driving. Start by keeping your back against the chair, couch or car seat. If your chair doesn't provide enough support, consider using a cushion or a lumbar roll. Same for your car seat. Many cars have settings for the different drivers in your household. Make sure you're in a comfortable but supportive position while driving.
3. Take Frequent Breaks
Sitting or standing in one position for long periods can cause muscle fatigue and tension. Take breaks every 30 minutes or so to stretch and move around. This will help to prevent stiffness and improve circulation.
4. Exercise and Stretch Regularly
Exercise can help to strengthen your muscles and improve your posture. Focus on exercises that target your core, back, and neck muscles, such as planks, bridges, and shoulder rolls.
5. Use the 90-90-90 Rule
Technology can cause us to hunch over and strain our necks. To prevent this, make sure your computer monitor is at eye level and your keyboard is at a comfortable height with your arms and legs close to a 90 degree angle. Use a headset or speakerphone for phone calls to avoid cradling the phone between your ear and shoulder. Also be mindful of the position of your head when you're looking down at your phone.
6. Wear Comfortable Shoes
High heels and shoes that don't fit properly can throw off your posture and cause back pain. Wear comfortable shoes with good arch support to help maintain proper alignment and save the heels and more trendy shoes for special occasions. If you do need to wear heels, bring a pair of comfortable shoes to keep in the car or in your bag.
7. Sleep Position is Important
We spend a large portion of our lives in bed…1/3 of our lives to be exact…so making sure you have a supportive mattress is another key to proper posture. If you're a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees so your hips and legs are aligned.
8. Be Mindful
Mindfulness can help you become more aware of your posture and correct it when needed. Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing and body position. Check in with yourself regularly throughout the day to ensure you're maintaining good posture.