We know, we know...you’ve heard it before. Your mother says it. Your teachers said it. Your boss may even say it. Wagging finger and all. “Sit up straight!”, “You’re going to damage your back!”, “Your bad posture is a bad habit - fix it!”
Well, we’re here to add to tell you the same thing. The difference is, unlike Mom, we’re going to tell you exactly why posture is important. And we’re going to tell you how to fix it - without pain, strain or sweat.
Getting great posture (and keeping it that way) is easier than you think. Today we’re going to share with you four TRULY EASY moves to fix your bad posture - right now.
<h5>In this article we’ll cover:</h5>
* What good posture actually is
* The most common causes of bad posture
* Long-term consequences of that “little slouch” you rarely think about
* Hope and help: there IS good news!
* Simple moves you can do right now to correct this condition
So sit up (straight!) and take notice: we’re about to give you the skinny on how a few simple changes could mean a big difference to your health.
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<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Good v. Bad Posture</p></h4>
What exactly is good posture, anyways? Is it just about sitting up straight and pulling your shoulders back?
Actually, good posture goes a little deeper than that. First of all, you should know that there are two types of posture:
This is how you hold your body when you’re in motion. This includes walking, running and bending over.
Static posture: You may have guessed that this is about sitting and standing. And that’s true, but it also includes your posture while you sleep. (That’s important too, and we’ll get to it in a moment.)
While you may think of “good” posture as standing or sitting absolutely straight, that’s not entirely true. Good posture is more about proper alignment than a straight spine.
Your spine curves in three major places: your neck, mid-back and lower back. Your intent with good posture is not to straighten these curves. It is to maintain them without extending them past their natural curvature.
Sounds tricky, doesn’t it? Actually, if you’re otherwise healthy and have good muscle tone (more on this later), it’s quite natural. But because we often either slouch or try to “sit up straighter,” we may be used to pulling our spine out of alignment.
<h5>Here’s your simple blueprint of what good posture looks like:</h5>
* Stand sideways in front of a full-length mirror.
* The top of your shoulders should be directly in line with your hips.
* Your neck should not jut forward or backward; hold your head right above your shoulders.
* Do not try to stand overly “straight” beyond these parameters (i.e. the well-known “military posture”). Hold the position naturally.
And there you have it - good posture!
It sounds so simple, right?
Then why does it seem so unnatural to many of us? And does having chronic poor posture come with health consequences?
We’re glad you asked, because it’s an important question, and it’s key to uncovering what you can do about your own good health.
Which brings us to…
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Common Causes of Bad Posture</p></h4>
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Bad posture isn’t just about “laziness”, there are actually a number of reasons a person may not routinely practice good posture.
<h5>Inconsistent muscle strength</h5>
If you have certain muscle groups that are healthy but others that are underworked and not as strong, your spine may sway too far forward, backward or to one side.
Spine issues. If you have scoliosis or another back condition, ask your doctor before starting any of the exercises below. <a href="https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Scoliosis/"><b>Only about 2-3% of the population</b></a> 1 has this condition, making it one of the rarer causes of incorrect posture.
Being <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/what-obesity-is"><b>overweight</b></a>. 2 Unfortunately, excess pounds can pull at your spine and cause you to lose your former good posture.
Consistent unnatural positioning due to your routine. Being hunched over while driving during a daily commute, leaning toward a computer screen with the arms raised for the keyboard and similar positioning can condition you to get used to slumping.
<h5>Compensating for a previous injury</h5>
If you’ve been injured in your back, neck, hip or leg, you may have leaned away from the pain while the issue healed. That’s actually quite normal, and if your doctor was on top of their game, they addressed it. If not, you may have pulled yourself out of alignment by favoring healthy areas without pain. Now it’s a habit, and your muscle strength is out of balance as it compensates.
As you can see, most of the causes of bad posture are within your control. And that’s good news. But in order to get the complete picture, it’s important to stay informed. That way you know how to tackle the issue right now, so you can have great health in the future.
Let’s talk a little about long-term issues that can happen if you don’t correct your posture. (We know you’ll want to, though, especially when you see how easy it is!)
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Long-Term Effects of Bad Posture</p></h4>
We never present a problem without a solution - we’re here to help you achieve better health and wellness than ever before. So don’t worry: we’ll get to an EASY, hands-on approach to correcting your posture in just a few moments.
In the meantime, there are some significant reasons you’ll want to avoid bad posture, especially as a long term habit. Here’s what poor posture can do to your health:
* Wear your vertebrae down. Improper posture puts uneven pressure on your spine. Over time this can literally grind away at bone.
* Increase your chance of injury. Misalignment of the spine means any injury could result in serious problems, including slipped or <a href="https://www.emedicinehealth.com/slipped_disk/article_em.htm"><b>herniated discs</b></a>. 3
* Make joints less movable/flexible.
* Cause chronic stiffness, especially in the neck or lower back.
* Cause you to be more easily fatigued.
Cause chronic pain, even in areas not directly affected - for instance, if you slouch in your lower abdomen, you may experience neck pain or headaches.
* Cause internal issues, such as poor digestion.
* “Pinch” nerves by compressing them.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">There’s Hope! How to Fix Your Posture With Exercise</p></h4>
We call the following EASY moves exercises, but we guarantee you won’t break a sweat. Best of all, they can be done easily, any time, anywhere.
These moves will start you on the road to better posture immediately. If you feel ANY pain - stop! See a qualified chiropractor to make sure there is no serious skeletal issue that’s preventing you from easily doing the moves.
But for most people, it’s a simple matter of getting back into some good habits and correcting muscle imbalances.
NOTE: Feeling tightness on one side or in one specific area when first performing posture exercises is normal. Most of the time, when bad posture exists, muscles have compensated to accommodate it. This means some areas are weaker. If you feel PAIN, then STOP. If you feel a gentle stretching sensation or a slight effort, your responses are normal. Just like working out any part of the body, as you strengthen the area, the moves should get easier.
Ready? Let’s get started!
<h5>MOVE 1: STANDING POSTURE DRILL</h5>
This drill is all about repetition. You may want to set your phone alarm to go off once an hour, then every two hours the next day, then every three hours. When the timer goes off, do this simple move (it takes just minutes). You’re building a habit each time you perform the drill.
Here’s what to do:
* Stand with your heels against a wall. Make sure they’re all the way back and that your feet are flat on the floor.
Your head, shoulder blades, and rear should all be touching the wall. Don’t stick any of these areas out or press them into the wall. Let the alignment be natural.
You will notice a slight curve in your lower back. Don’t attempt to flatten this curve out and don’t stick your abdomen out to increase the curve. Let it happen naturally.
* Now take one small step away from the wall. Maintain the same posture as you do so.
Stand still for a moment. Maintain the posture. Notice how your body feels. You’re building muscle memory.
* Repeat at least three times each day. In the beginning, it’s a great idea to do it more often than that. If it’s easier, use the every hour, then every two hours, then every three hours method we listed above. When you get to three times a day, it will have become a habit; you can continue this way going forward.
<h5>MOVE 2: SPINE ALIGNMENT</h5>
This move builds on Move 1 above. It decompresses and aligns your spine. It also gently stretches the area. This move should feel absolutely great! It should feel like a nice, de-stressing stretch. If you feel pain, STOP. Otherwise, go ahead and do this move twice a day.
* Start with steps 1 and 2 in Move 1: Standing Posture Drill above, except that this time, your feet should be about 6” away from the wall while your head, shoulder blades and rear stay against the wall.
* Bend your knees slightly. You will sink a bit lower down the wall as you do so. Bend only as far as is comfortable to you. You should feel some effort - most people don’t use this position naturally during their day - but no pain.
* Now flatten your back as much as you can against the wall. Flatten it all the way from your neck to your lower back if possible.
Be careful - this takes balance. You will not get your lower back completely flat against the wall; your buttocks prevent that from happening. Just straighten as much as you can.
* Continuing to be careful of your balance, slowly raise your arms and hold them with your elbows and the backs of your hands against the wall. Straighten them as much as you can and hold them there for about 5-8 seconds.
* Slowly lower your arms back to your sides.
*Repeat step 5 above 3 times.
* Carefully straighten your legs to come back up and out of the position.
<h5>MOVE 3: SITTING POSTURE DRILL</h5>
If you’re like most people, you spend a lot of time sitting! And while we always recommend getting up and performing some health-boosting moves, we also realize that most of us need to sit - at computers, while driving, and while relaxing at night binge-watching Netflix (No, you’re not alone).
Unfortunately, we tend to develop very bad habits when sitting. Often, we slouch to one side or the other. We begin to favor one side and the opposite side becomes weak. Over time, it’s not a question of deciding to slouch; our muscles make us slouch.
Here’s how to reverse that!
* Sit in a chair that’s the right height for your feet to be flat on the floor, with your thighs roughly parallel to the floor.
* Sit straight up on your sit bones. Often, we get into the habit of sitting on the tailbone. This rounds the shoulders and causes a slouching of the back. Instead, sit right up!
* Make sure you keep your feet flat on the floor, your weight is even on both buttocks and your shoulders and neck are lined up. Don’t let your head fall forward.
You should feel a mild arch in your lower back and another in your upper back. Don’t exaggerate this curve. Let it happen naturally.
* Like Move 1 above, this move is all about repetition, muscle memory and forming new habits. Remind yourself every time you sit down to start in this position. If you realize at some point that your posture is back to its old tricks.
* Repeat steps 1-4 above.
<h5>MOVE 4: CORE EXERCISE</h5>
We mentioned earlier that incorrect posture eventually causes some muscles to be weaker, while others become stronger (and more stressed) in order to compensate. Getting great posture depends upon your core muscles being evenly strong and all working together, as nature intended.
In order to build up even core strength, do <a href="https://www.warriormade.com/content/exercise/the-better-way-to-do-core-exercises-from-a-chair/">**THIS MOVE**</a> 4 twice a day. Morning and night is your best bet. This move is very easy and gentle, but don’t underestimate it. You will build and strengthen your core, as well as stretch out the area in case of stiffness due to former incorrect posture.
<h4><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Making Good Posture a Habit</p></h4>
Always think: alignment, alignment, alignment! Your head, shoulders and hips should always be stacked evenly, one over the other. Notice when your chin is jutting forward or your shoulders are slouching or hunched up. Make it a habit to correct these issues all day long. In no time at all, you won’t even need to think about them.
Make sure you maintain good posture when you sleep. Yes, really! Your pillow should hold your head at a height that keeps your neck straight. Side sleeping is generally best, particularly if you have back issues.
Invest in a work chair that adjusts so that you can get the right height to keep your feet flat on the floor and your posture straight.
If you feel weakness in one area, that’s a huge clue. Don’t go lower in weights during workouts on that one side, or compensate in other ways. Instead, work on getting both sides of your body evenly strong.
Wondering what other exercises are best for you, your body type, and your specific needs? Take our quick and easy <a href="https://www.warriormade.com/core-quiz/ "><b>CORE QUIZ</b></a> 5 and get started right now on your personal journey to great health!
<h6><p style="color: rgba(20, 117, 135, 1)">Sources Cited</p></h6>
<font size="1">1 <a href="https://www.aans.org/Patients/Neurosurgical-Conditions-and-Treatments/Scolio"</a>
2 <a href="https://www.webmd.com/diet/obesity/what-obesity-is"</a>
3 <a href="https://www.emedicinehealth.com/slipped_disk/article_em.htm"</a>
4 <a href="https://www.warriormade.com/core-quiz/ "</a>