How to Correct Your Posture (The Right Way)
Tech neck. Hunchback. Slouch. No matter the name, it’s all the same - bad posture. An ailment that affects about half of the entire US population, poor posture is an overlooked, underestimated issue that many people just assume can’t be changed.
Not true, dear reader!
The reality is, correcting your posture isn’t nearly as difficult as most think, and no, it isn’t just randomly remembering to correct your posture by sitting up uncomfortably straight and holding it for as long as you can.
All you need is time, patience, and a willingness to learn (and if you don’t have all or any of those things, maybe a posture corrector brace. But we’ll get into that later).
If you’re looking for an all-encompassing article on the risks, benefits, and methods of posture correction, you’ve found it. We’re getting into everything, all the way to breaking down what it even means to have good posture.
So relax your shoulders, stick out your chest, and get ready to learn about the art of posture correction!
How Can Bad Posture Affect Your Health?
Let’s start by scaring you straight (or should we say scaring your spine straight?): having bad posture can lead to a series of issues, some of which you may already be experiencing. Here are just a few issues listed by MedLine Plus:
Neck, shoulder, and back pain
Spooky, right? And that’s just a few of them. While some of these issues are more serious than others, many of them can be avoided with a few daily changes. But before we enter that zone, let’s get into what having ‘good posture’ really means (and why it isn't’ the same for everyone):
What Does it Mean to Have ‘Good Posture’?
Posture is broken out into 2 types: static (sitting, standing, sleeping), and dynamic (movement, walking, bending over). Ensuring you have good posture means that both of these types need to be correct, as well.
Having ‘good posture’ really depends on how your spine is placed. The goal of good posture is to ensure that your spine is positioned in its natural state (as opposed to hunched over on a computer or looking at a phone).
This doesn’t mean trying to make your spine as straight as you can, which is what many people try to do when they first try to correct their own posture.
The key is to keep your head above your shoulders, and your shoulders over your hips.
How Can You Tell if Your Posture is ‘Bad’?
Not sure if you’re suffering from the slouch? Check if you’re dealing with any of the following issues:
Back, neck, and shoulder issues
General body aches
Forward/backward leaning head
Bent knees while walking/standing
Any of that sound familiar? If so, we’re sorry to tell you that you may have poor posture. But don’t worry, by the end of this article you’ll be equipped enough to become the perfect posture professional in no time!
Now, let’s get into why bad posture is so common:
What Causes Bad Posture?
Oh, so many things. From getting an injury to getting a text to straight up getting old and everything in between, bad posture is easy to get and hard to shake. It’s actually impressive that only about half of us in the USA suffer from it.
Here are just a few of the many, many ways one can develop bad posture:
Lack of Exercise/Repetitive Movement
Our muscles can get weak from a lack of exercise, repetitive routine, or lack of use altogether - all of which can cause bad posture by placing tension on your muscles and forcing them to adapt to new, unnatural positions.
Having a Desk Job
Work at a 9-5 desk gig? If you do, there’s a high chance your posture is poor - and who could blame you? Sitting down for hours on end, slouching our shoulders, leaning in to read things, it all puts pressure on our bodies.
Using Your Phone
There’s a reason we started this article with the phrase ‘Tech Neck’. This affliction happens when we look down at our phone for a prolonged period of time, curving our spine and giving us a natural slouch.
Being stressed out too often is so harmful that it would honestly be easier to list the things it doesn’t negatively impact as opposed to the things that it does.
And, as you may have guessed, it causes bad posture, too. To explain further, stress can cause shortness of breath and/or overly-contracted muscles, which pull your body into a slouching position.
Thought your feet were safe? Guess again. Wearing heels or poorly-padded shoes is a quick and shockingly easy way to worsen your posture. This doesn’t mean you can never wear heels or flats again, but it does mean that you should consider wearing them on special occasions only.
That’s right, folks - sometimes you have bad posture simply because it’s in your DNA. But hey, don’t worry! That doesn’t mean it’s not fixable, it just means you’re more susceptible to it.
There are many more, but these are the most common. If you noticed a pattern, you’re not alone - it’s generally accepted that bad posture is most commonly associated with repetitive movement (or a lack thereof)!
At this point, some of you might be thinking: ‘I’ve had bad posture all my life. Is it too late for me to fix it?’
Great question! Let’s get into it:
Is it Possible to Correct Your Posture (Even After Years of Slouching)?
Absolutely! Training your posture is on par with exercising - it gets easier the more you do it. Even if you’ve been slumping all your life, it can more often than not be corrected by daily repetitive exercises, focus, and a little hard work.
You can even correct your posture when you’re not thinking about it by using a back brace, or one of those little devices that vibrates when you slouch. There’s no age restriction, and they both show pretty quick results!
How Long Does it Take to Correct Your Posture?
According to a recent Harvard study, you should see results between 6-12 weeks of consistent posture training (emphasis on ‘consistent’. The less you do your training, the longer it will take). It may seem like a daunting amount of time at first, but it will go by faster than you think.
Try to imagine that you’re trying to gain a new habit. Incorporate it into your daily routine for the best results!
Time to get into the meat of the matter: how to stop the slouch.
The 3 Best Ways to Correct Your Posture at Home (or Work)
Training your body to go back to its healthy, natural position doesn’t require a doctor, personal trainer, or gym membership. All you need are a couple accessories, some patience, and a willingness to improve.
Try a few of these daily exercises to get your back, well, back on track.
Do These Easy Exercises:
The Elbow Stretch: Put your hands behind your back and try to grab the opposite elbow with the other hand (or the opposite forearm if you can’t reach that far). Hold that position for as long as you’re willing, and release. Repeat 4-5 times throughout the day.
The Towel Exercise: Place a rolled up towel between your shoulder blades, and squeeze to hold it there for as long as you can. Repeat as much as you feel comfortable!
This exercise can be done while you’re watching tv or sitting idle.
The Plank Exercise: This one is a little more intensive. Hold a plank for as long as you can, resting on your forearms instead of your hands. A good move to incorporate into your workout.
The Wall Snow Angel: Put your head, shoulders, buttocks, and heels against a wall. Move your arms up and down against the wall like you’re making a snow angel. You’ll be surprised how hard this is after a few times!
This exercise can be done while you’re watching tv or sitting idle.