Slouching doesn’t just make you look funny. It’s also a detriment to your overall wellbeing. Unfortunately, it takes intentional practice and some amount of time to reverse bad posture, but it is possible. First, you need to understand the things you are doing that contribute to bad posture before you can start fixing them. Here are some things that are affecting your posture and what you can do about it.
Perhaps the most surprising contributor to bad posture, texting or looking at your phone can really do some damage to your body. Most people look down at their phones, positioning their heads at a 60-degree angle. This can put up to 60 pounds of weight on your neck and shoulders. That kind of pressure leads to neck and back pain, tension headaches and herniated disks.
It’s likely impossible to not look at your phone, so you can start by looking at it less. Give yourself a break from the screen and put it down for a couple hours a day. When you do need to look at your phone, make sure you square your shoulders and hold your phone up so your head doesn’t put so much pressure on your neck and spine.
Since we tend to stand and sit in unhealthy positions all day long, sometimes we end up sleeping in bad positions as well. If you tend to curl your body up like a “C”, you probably aren’t doing your back any favors. Try sleeping on your back, since that’s the healthiest sleep position. You should also try to avoid watching TV or working on your laptop in bed. Propping yourself up with multiple pillows is bad for your back and neck and will lead to more pain down the road.
Most of us choose sitting positions that put strain on our backs. Sitting hunched over and staring down at a screen puts more pressure on our spines, causing back problems. Instead, be sure your lower back is against the back of your office chair and your elbows form a 90 degree angle while you type.
However, even the best sitting position won’t do you any good if you’re sitting all day. Your body isn’t designed for that. Make sure you get up and move around throughout the day. Also, you may want to invest in a standing desk. This allows you to have better posture at work so your overall health is improved.
People have the wrong idea when it comes to good posture while standing. It’s not just lifting your head and chest, but rather you need to engage your entire body in order to have good posture. You should engage your core so the center of your body is aligned. It’s good to keep your chin and chest up, but also be sure your whole body is working toward good standing posture.
The average American commute is 25.5 minutes each way to and from work. Your commute may be even longer than that. You may not think about your posture when you’re driving, but it plays a big part in keeping your body healthy. When you drive, your body is doing multiple things at once, so it’s important you practice good posture. Some drivers sit with the seat too far back, making it hard to reach the gas and acceleration pedals. To compensate, drivers twist their hips so their feet can reach the pedals.
As you grip the steering wheel, your shoulders should be in line with your hips. The back of your seat should be upright and fairly close to your steering wheel. Make sure your lower back is pressed up against the seat back.
6. Carrying Bags or a Purse
Even without a bag, most of us have bad posture! When you take into consideration the fact that the average woman’s purse weighs more than six pounds, you can see heavy bags can make your posture even worse.
If you want to improve your posture but you can’t give up your purse or briefcase, try switching up which shoulder your bag rests on. Also, at the end of the day, roll your shoulders to stretch out your muscles.
If you are stressing out about something right now, your posture is probably suffering from it. Your body language tends to reveal how you’re feeling. So if you feel weighed down by life’s responsibilities, you may be standing or walking with hunched shoulders.
Cure the stress in your life and see your posture improve. Get a massage or do some stretches that will allow your muscles to relax. Not only will this help you physically, but it will help you mentally as well.
If you struggle with bad posture, start reversing it by tackling these issues. What do you do to fix your bad posture?
Jennifer Landis is a 27-year-old healthy living blogger who loves yoga, running, and dancing it out with her toddler! You can find more from Jennifer at her blog, Mindfulness Mama, or by following her on Twitter: @jenniferelandis.