“When someone is confident and in a winning mood, they bring their shoulders back, their head over their shoulders and their arms raised up,” says Marvin C. Lee, a chiropractor in Los Angeles. “Good posture can promote these feelings.”
With so many people sitting at their desks for the majority of the day, bad posture has become commonplace. Having bad posture can negatively affect your body, including your back, jaw, hips, and knees. This can cause a lot of pain, along with long-term damage.
“We as humans were never meant to evolve into such sedentary creatures,” says Lee. “The prolonged sitting, hunched over our phones and computers, contributes a lot to our poor postures.”
It is not too late. Just because you have bad posture now doesn’t mean you can’t fix the way you stand. Strengthening the proper muscles and focusing on how you sit and stand can help you attain proper alignment. If you find yourself constantly slumped over, consider trying some of the following tips for better posture.
1. GET UP AND MOVE
“Get up at least once an hour to go to the bathroom, bust out a quick set of stretches, or get yourself a glass of water,” says Lee. Staying hunched over at your desk can cause bad posture, so any chance you have to move around, take it.
2. SWITCH TO A STANDING DESK
While this may not be possible for everyone, getting a standing desk allows you to stay upright while you’re working and avoid the slouched-over position that’s so detrimental to our alignment.
3. TRAIN YOUR MUSCLES
By taking up a regular exercise regimen, you can train your body to not only be stronger, but to hold itself up properly. “Be diligent about proper posture while working out so you can train the proper muscles to hold that posture while you are at rest,” says Dr. Matt DeLeva, another chiropractor in Los Angeles.
4. DO A DESK STRETCH
There are many stretches you can do while seated at your desk that incorporate the shoulders, neck, back, and legs. Try a simple hamstring stretch or an easy twist to keep your muscles from tensing up in the same position all day.
5. TAKE UP YOGA
Many yoga poses incorporate back stretches, strengthen your core, and help with relaxation and flexibility. Yoga also helps bring more awareness to your body, which can help you pay attention to how you carry yourself.
6. CHANGE THE WAY YOU SIT
You can have the nicest and most ergonomic chair, but if you are sitting improperly in it, your posture will be affected. “Try lifting your chair or putting a pad under you so that your knees are lower than your hips,” says DeLeva. This will keep the correct curvature in your back and neck.
Originally published on Bustle, November 2014.