Modern life can make bad posture seem like an inevitability. Many people spend the entire day hunched in front of screens, which can lead to rounded shoulders, weak back and core muscles, and eventually persistent pain.
The good news is that bad posture can be avoided. Read on to learn how you can set up an environment that makes maintaining good posture easier, as well as movements that help keep your back and core strong.
- Test your posture.
Before correcting anything, it can be useful to know the state of your posture. One of the easiest posture tests is to try to stand against a wall so that your glutes, shoulders, and back of head are touching it. Then, take a step away from the wall while maintaining that alignment. At this point, your posture should be perfect. Assess how much that stance differs from your day-to-day posture. That gives you a rough idea of how much progress you have to make.
- Ensure chairs you use for extended periods of time have excellent lumbar support.
Whenever you’re seated somewhere for extended periods of time, it’s vital that the seat is designed with posture in mind. If possible, get your office chair ergonomically adjusted. If that’s not an option, or if you spend a lot of time on the road, consider getting a portable pillow with lumber support for whichever chair you happen to use. Failing that, you may want to try supporting your lower back with a small pillow or a rolled-up blanket.
- Prop up your feet.
Keeping your knees a bit higher than your hips can help alleviate low back pain. Consider using a low foot stool to help you achieve this posture throughout the day.
- Roll out muscle tightness.
While foam rollers and massage balls tend to be used most frequently by athletes for myofascial release, everyone can benefit from these effective and relatively inexpensive tools. The key is to roll out tension frequently, before it builds into a serious source of pain. Consult resources online to find the best movement for the particular tightness you’re experiencing.
- Hold plank pose.
The plank pose is a classic exercise where you get in a position that looks like the top of a push up, with your wrists directly below your shoulders. You also have the option of resting on your forearms. Ideally, your back and legs are straight. Take care not to raise or lower your hips too much.
Hold this stance depending on your level of fitness. Beginners might only be able to stay in the position for 15 to 30 seconds, while people who are more athletic might hold the pose for minutes. Plank pose is great for posture because it strengthens your core, low back, and chest.
- Roll your shoulders.
This move can be done while sitting at your desk. Raise your shoulders to your ears while inhaling and then pull your shoulder blades down and together on the exhale. Do this 5 to 10 times in a row, depending on how tight your shoulders, neck, and back feel.
Correcting posture is a process that can require changing your work space, learning to roll out muscle tension, and doing a bit of exercise each day. While it’s not necessarily easy to eliminate bad posture because of all the elements involved, it is very much possible and well worth the effort.