Pros Of Proper Posture: Top 5 Ways To Improve Posture!

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Poor posture has always been a struggle of mine. When I was younger, I remember my dad having to teach me how to walk with my head held high, as my natural disposition was to walk with my head drooped (don’t worry- I was still a happy kid!).

Sitting up properly just doesn’t come easily to me. I find it so much more comfortable to be slouched. It requires constant effort and active paying attention for me to sit with proper posture. And even when I do, I find that it strains my muscles and I’m in pain. Why would I try so hard to do something that’s so uncomfortable for me?!

Yet I know that improving my posture is important to do. I started realizing that maybe there were other, better ways to get proper posture than simply trying to sit up straight. After all this time of being slouched, I realized that I probably need to give my muscles some extra support before I could expect them to properly support me.

How Can Poor Posture Result In Back Pain?

Let’s start with the basics: what exactly is posture? It’s the position of your body while you sit, stand, or move. With good posture, your vertebrae are aligned properly. But unfortunately, poor posture can result in back pain.

Sitting with poor posture for a short while might not seem like a big deal to you. You might not notice the effects at all. But over time, the pressure that poor posture places on your body adds up.

The stress your body experiences from poor posture can cause anatomical changes in your spine. These changes can constrict your blood vessels and nerves, resulting in back pain. Poor posture can also lead to back pain since it can mess up your muscles, joints, and discs.

If you generally have poor posture, you might experience the effects in different ways. For instance, your back pain might intensify at specific times of the day. This can be the result of doing a certain activity, sitting in a particular type of chair, or towards the end of the day when your muscles are getting weary. The pain might radiate between your lower back, upper back, and even your neck.

If you’ve ever experienced back or neck pain, you know just how uncomfortable it can be. It might start as a minor inconvenience, but it can easily snowball into a major issue that prevents you from enjoying everyday activities.

Top 5 Ways To Improve Posture

1. Exercise To Improve Posture

Back view of woman stretching in field.

Exercise can help to improve posture.

Staying in shape is not only for weight loss or weight maintenance. It can also help improve your posture! If you’re already suffering from back pain as a result of poor posture, the thought of exercise might be a bit daunting. But while it might hurt to start, exercising can definitely help. It makes your core muscles stronger so that they can support you and your good posture better. It also increases blood flow to your discs and joints, making your back healthier.

There are several easy exercises you can try. One is the shoulder blade squeeze. Simply sit in a chair with your back straight and your palms placed on your thighs. Keep your shoulders down and look straight ahead. Slowly, squeeze your shoulder blades in a backward motion and hold this position for five seconds. Then repeat this four times.

You can also perform the chest opener exercise, which helps you open and stretch your chest. This is particularly good if you sit a lot throughout the day, as doing so makes your chest go inwards. By strengthening your chest, you can stand straighter and therefore have better posture. For this exercise, simply stand with your feet hip-width apart. With your hands behind your back, interlace your fingers. Look forward as your head, neck and spine are aligned. While inhaling, lift your chest towards the ceiling and bring your hands upwards behind you in a gentle motion. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths while holding this pose. Then release your hands and relax, repeating the process 10 times.

2. Yoga To Improve Posture

Since proper posture is all about standing or sitting up straight, yoga is a great way to improve your posture. Your body has a natural mild forward curve in the neck and lower back, as well as a mild back curve in your upper and mid-back. Through yoga, you can learn to keep these natural curves while sitting, standing and posing. This is important because if your natural curves are repeatedly flattened or curved too much, it can lead to more long-term poor posture.

In order to help with back pain due to poor posture, try sitting twice daily in Virsana, also known as the Hero Pose. For this pose you need to bend down with your knees together. Then separate your feet so that your butt can rest in the floor.

This pose helps improve posture since it aligns your spine’s curves properly. Getting into this pose will help you be more aware of your posture throughout the day and remind you what it feels like when your muscles, joints and discs are properly aligned.

3. Avoid ‘Text Neck’

Woman looking at her phone in field.

Woman checking her phone.

‘Text neck’ is exactly what you’d expect it to be. It relates to continued stress, pain and injury in the neck as a result of too much cell phone use. It also goes by the names ‘turtle neck posture’ or ‘anterior head syndrome’. In our day and age of constant cell phone use, this is perhaps the most pressing issue for those with poor posture.

‘Text neck’ happens as a person looks down at their phone and consequently strains their spine. When you tilt your head forward 15 degrees, you put around 27 pounds of pressure on your neck. The lower your head goes, the more strain your body experiences.

‘Text neck’ is not just a cute way to say someone is on their phone too much. It can lead to spinal degeneration, disc compression, and muscle weakness. A person with ‘text neck’ is likely to experience pain (which can radiate), a stiff neck, and headaches. Naturally, all of this makes a person’s posture poor. So make sure to take frequent breaks from phone usage in order to avoid the pitfall of ‘text neck’.

4. Stretches To Improve Posture

There are plenty of stretches which can help you improve posture. For one, you can try an upper body stretch. While standing up, face a corner of a wall. With your arms up, place the palms of your hands against the wall with your elbows at the same height as your shoulders. Put one foot in front of the other and bend that knee. Breathe out while you lean your body towards the corner of the wall. While doing all of this, make sure that your back is straight and your chest and head are up. Hold the stretched position for half a minute. If you feel a stretch across your chest, you’re doing the exercise the right way.

One last exercise is the arm-across-chest stretch. Simply raise your right arm to be aligned with your shoulder. Then bend your arm while making sure that your forearm is parallel to the ground. Hold your right elbow with your left hand and then pull it across your chest. You should feel a stretch in your upper arm and shoulder on your right side. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and then relax. You can then switch sides and repeat this exercise 3 more times.

5. Improve Posture While You Sleep

alarm clock on bed sheets.

Sleep is essential for good health.

Posture is not just for when you’re awake. It’s important to make sure that you’re sleeping in a good position so that you don’t wake up with any neck, back, or shoulder pain. And we’ve all been there, haven’t we…?

Pick a mattress that’s comfortable for you. It should be one that is big enough for you to move around in so that you don’t have to sleep with your muscles tense. Flipping your mattress once in a while can help make it more comfortable for you.

Perhaps the most important element of sleeping with proper posture is your pillow selection. You want to make sure you have something adequately supporting the natural curve of your neck. You’ll want to use a pillow which will keep your neck aligned with your chest and lower back. When your pillows raise your head and neck up too high, it can cause uncomfortable muscle strain.

You can even use additional pillows in order to keep your spine in the right position while you sleep. For instance, if you tend to sleep on your back, placing a small pillow under your knees will reduce stress on your spine and help support your lower back. When sleeping on your stomach, put a flat pillow under your stomach and pelvis to help with spine alignment.

Conclusion

If you don’t want to be nicknamed the Hunchback of Notre Dame, it’s time to start taking your posture seriously. Whether constant sitting, frequent cell phone usage, or just a general lack of attention to your posture is the root of the problem, there are plenty of ways you can remedy the situation.

Through simple exercises, stretches, and smart sleeping, you can gain better posture to lead a healthier and more pain-free life. Once you get into the mindset of proper posture, you’ll be able to incorporate these techniques into everything you do, from working to hanging out with friends to snoozing away.