Good posture is about more than just looking your best. Holding your body the right way can prevent back-related injuries and pain and plays an essential role in your overall health.
Depending on your lifestyle and activity level, poor posture can unfortunately often become second nature. However, the main factors affecting your posture are within your control, and with a few changes, you can easily change your posture for the better.
Below, we’ve compiled six tips to help you improve your posture to look and feel your best.
1. Maintain A Healthy Weight
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to improving your posture. Excess fat around your abdomen can weaken the abdominal muscles and strain your spine and pelvis, causing lower back pain. This, in turn, puts more burden on your muscles and can worsen your posture.
Excessive fat can also lead to aesthetic issues, such as a double chin (whose causes also include age and genetics).
So make sure to eat a well-balanced diet of nutritious foods with lots of fruits and vegetables and get adequate physical activity. Incorporate at least 30 minutes of yoga, jogging, cardio, or strength training into your daily routine to stay in shape and improve your posture.
2. Watch Your Sitting Position
If you want to improve your overall posture, your sitting position matters greatly.
For a proper sitting position, keep your shoulders relaxed, ensuring they are not pulled backward or rounded. Make sure your feet are resting flat on the ground. If your chair is too high, use a footrest instead of leaving your feet hanging. Keep your elbows close to your body, bent at a 90 to 120-degree angle.
Make sure that your back, hips, and thighs are fully supported. Use back support or cushion if your seat does not have a backrest, and ensure your seat is well-padded. Keep your hips, shoulders, and ears aligned in one vertical line.
If you’re seated for a prolonged period, shift your sitting position occasionally to avoid getting tired. For example, you can alternate between sitting at the edge of your seat with a straight back and sitting with your back pressed against the backrest of your chair.
Try to avoid any unbalanced postures, such as leaning to one side, tilting your head, jutting your neck forward, unevenly crossing your legs, or hunching your shoulders.
3. Avoid Heeled Shoes
While a pair of high-heels are a great way to spice up any outfit, they can significantly worsen your posture in the long term.
They put pressure on your back by pushing the spine forward, which causes the back to over-arch. This can alter the shape and lining of your backbone and result in severe back pain over time.
If you currently struggle with back pain due to posture issues, your best bet is to avoid wearing heeled shoes as much as possible. So opt for comfy chunky shoes or flats on the daily, and save the high heels for an occasional night out.
4. Watch Out For ‘Text Neck’
‘Text neck syndrome’ is caused by repetitive stress on the neck muscles due to keeping your head extended for long periods. This forward position of the neck usually occurs when we sit hunched over our laptops, smartphones, or mobile devices for hours on end.
If you are experiencing pain or discomfort in your neck, shoulders, or back due to text neck, you may want to consider seeing a chiropractor who is trained to diagnose and treat spinal misalignments, which can be a contributing factor to text neck. They can also help you improve your posture and teach you exercises to strengthen your neck muscles. There are a number of different chiropractic directories available online, so you can easily find a chiropractor in your area. When choosing a chiropractor, be sure to ask about their experience treating text neck and their approach to care.
Apart from causing discomfort and pain in the shoulder and neck muscles, text neck syndrome can significantly worsen your posture, causing intermittent headaches and eye and nerve pain.
However, there are some simple tips you can follow to prevent text neck syndrome. For example, when using your mobile device, hold it up to eye level and tuck your chin inwards. Keep your shoulder blades rolled backward, and remember to shift positions every few minutes. You should also take a break from your device and stretch your muscles at least every 15 minutes.
5. Stay Active
Staying physically active is not only great for your overall health but is also the key to good posture. That’s because if your muscles remain slack and tired, the chances of developing posture issues increase.
While general exercise can help improve your posture, certain exercises produce better results. These include tai chi, yoga, and core-strengthening exercises, which can help straighten your spine and alleviate back pain — so try incorporating them into your daily routine.
If you work a desk job or stay hunched over your smartphone/laptop for an extended period, make sure to take a two-minute break at every half-hour interval. Get up from your chair, stretch your neck, back, and arms, and take a short walk around the room before returning to your seat.
6. Maintain A Proper Driving Posture
If you’re driving long distances regularly, it is vital to take care of how you are seated in your car.
For a proper driving posture, ensure that your headrest and car seat are in the correct position where you can drive safely and comfortably. Adjust your steering wheel so it is level with your chest, not your face. Keep your seat upright, and sit deep into your seat, bracing your body with your left foot. Ensure your arms are bent, placing your thumbs on the rim of the steering wheel.
If your car seat is too uncomfortable, consider adding a cushion or a wedge to adjust the seat’s height. Cushions can also decrease vibrations from the road, reducing the risk of injuries and joint pain while driving.