How to Improve Your Posture: 8 Proven Methods
If you’re like most people, you spend a fair share of time hunched over a desk, staring down at a screen, or forgetting to stand up straight when you walk.
You may regularly experience stiff shoulders, a sore back, or persistent aches and pains. If you do, you may be one in 31 million Americans that suffer from poor posture.
Posture refers to the way that you hold yourself, but it isn’t just about standing straight. Posture includes 2 components, according to the National Library of Health:
- Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you’re moving, like walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
- Static posture is how you hold yourself when you aren’t moving, like sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Posture is an essential part of health — both mental and physical. Good posture can keep your joints healthy, your bones strong, and your confidence high. In fact, researchers at the University of Ohio find that better posture correlates with higher confidence.
Read on to learn more about good posture and the best ways to improve yours.
What is Good Posture?
Good posture isn’t just an art: it’s a science. Some of the hallmarks of good posture, according to Harvard Health, are keeping your:
- Chin parallel to the floor
- Shoulders even
- Spine neutral
- Arms at both sides with elbows straight and even
- Abdominal muscles braced
- Hips even
- Knees even and pointing straight ahead
- Body weight distributed evenly on both feet
Achieving good posture is easier said than done, but the benefits are well worth the effort. If you’re looking to improve your posture, these strategies can get you off to a strong start.
8 Proven Ways to Improve Your Posture
- Pay attention to screen ergonomics: If you work a desk job, pay extra attention to how you position yourself at the computer. Ensure your computer monitor is at eye level and your keyboard is at a height where your arms are parallel to the ground. This will help you prevent straining your neck and shoulders while you work.
- Switch positions: Even if your ergonomics are right, you’re bound to experience back pain if you sit for 8 hours straight. As such, you should avoid sitting or standing in the same position for extended periods of time. Change your posture every 30 minutes to keep your muscles engaged and prevent stiffness.
- Adjust your phone: Just like your computer screen, your phone screen can be a culprit of poor posture. If you look down at your phone for long periods of time, you’ll likely experience neck pain, hunched shoulders, and back aches. To correct this, bring your phone to eye level or elevate it with a stand to keep it at eye level. This will reduce the strain on your neck and keep your posture upright.
- Check your progress: Even if you think your posture isn’t that bad, you might be surprised to find something different when you see your reflection. Use a mirror to check your posture throughout the day, and if you notice any issues, adjust yourself as needed.
- Try new exercises: If you want to take a more active approach to improving your posture, exercise can help. The right exercises stretch your limbs, strengthen your muscles, and improve your posture. Many yoga poses — including child’s pose, forward fold, and cat-cow — can increase spinal mobility and alleviate pain. Other exercises to try include side planks, glute bridges, and isometric pulls. Read this article from Healthline to learn how to do them.
- Try a chin tuck: Chin tucks are small movements that put your head in the right position to support good posture. While sitting or standing, gently tuck your chin toward your chest, lengthening the back of your neck. This discourages the forward head posture often associated with prolonged screen time and alleviates any tension you might have.
- Practice proper sleeping posture: Posture isn’t only important when you’re awake, but also when you’re sleeping. If you want to improve your posture, improve your bedtime routine. Sleep on a supportive mattress and use a pillow that keeps your neck in a neutral position. Avoid sleeping on your stomach, which can strain your neck and spine. Experiment with different pillow heights and sleeping positions to discover what feels most supportive for your body.
- Get professional help: If you’re still struggling with your posture, or if you just want expert insight on how to improve it, consider getting guidance from a healthcare professional. A physical therapist, chiropractor, or even your local independent pharmacist can provide personalized advice and suggest adjustments to improve your posture and prevent pain.
In a world of screens and sedentary routines, poor posture is an ongoing issue. Beyond aesthetics, poor posture can profoundly affect your physical and mental health.
Practicing good posture is a work in progress, but it provides a whole host of benefits — including improved mood, greater confidence, and better productivity.
By paying attention to your ergonomics, incorporating new exercises, and making simple adjustments in your routine, you can improve your posture in powerful ways. In turn, you can pave the way for a healthier self.
Remember: whether you’re at work, at rest, or asleep, prioritizing your posture is a small yet impactful step towards enhancing your overall well-being.