Having a straight posture has numerous health benefits. Slouching can cause headaches, respiratory problems and pain in your back, neck, shoulder, knee, hip, and foot pain. Maintaining a correct posture can not only prevent those conditions, but also optimize muscle use, concentration, energy, circulation, and more. But if you're a chronic sloucher, how can you train yourself to be more mindful of your posture? Here are some tips:
One way to help align your spine and practice keeping it straight is by using a wall. Stand with your back against a wall so your head, shoulders and buttocks are all touching the wall. Your heels should be about two inches away from the wall, allowing space for your hand to slide between your back and the wall. Once you've made sure you're standing straight, move away from the wall slowly and try to maintain this posture without its support. After you walk away from the wall, return to it and check that you have maintained the same posture.
Using skin-friendly medical tape, have someone tape an "X" from your shoulders to your hips, and then have them close the top of the "X" with a line across your shoulders. You can wear this under a layer of clothes and go through your day The tape will help train your back to remain in a straighter position throughout the day.
Nobody is asking you to walk around in public with books on your head. You can do this practice alone in your home by resting a book on your head. To balance it, your back will need to remain straight. Once this posture becomes second nature, ditch the tome and as you walk, just pretend there is a book on your head to continue your training.
What makes a correct posture hard to maintain is that it's not just standing up straight that we need to worry about. Perhaps most of the slouching happens while we are sitting down. The truth of the matter is, in general, sitting down slouched feels much more comfortable. One thing you can do to make yourself feel more at ease while sitting up straight is to place a rolled towel between the chair and your waist. The overarching idea is that your back needs support, which is what slouching basically serves for, but in the wrong way. If you have something to lean on, you won't feel the urge to slouch anymore.
If you are working on a computer, sit back until your buttocks touch the back of your chair, and pull the computer toward you rather than sitting on the edge of your seat. Having a straight chair certainly helps. You can also pull your belly in, keep your shoulders back and your chest out, even if that makes you feel like a bodybuilder who is overtly showing off his muscles.
A robust way to improve your sitting down experience is the shoulder blade squeeze. Basically, as you are sitting, rest your hands on your thighs and keep your chin horizontal. Then, draw your shoulders back and squeeze your shoulder blades together a few times for 3-4 seconds. If you don't have a good chair, this is a very practical way to give your back straightening boosts.
Stretching sometimes goes overlooked, perhaps because it seems almost too simple to be effective. But this is precisely what makes this exercise so beneficial, as long as you do it right. Once again, a straight wall is the pillar you can always count on for support. One of the best ways is to face a corner with your arms stretched out and your hands flat on both walls. Put one foot ahead of the other and bend its knee until you feel a nice stretch throughout your upper body. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and rest. Then repeat with the other foot forward.
Once you learn how to do that, you won't even need a wall, just like with the technique mentioned above.
It's not just standing up straight that you need to worry about -- slouching often tends to happen when you're sitting down. To improve your sitting posture while remaining comfortable, you can place a rolled towel between the chair and your waist. This towel supports your back throughout the day while allowing you to sit in a straighter posture and avoid slouching.
If you work on a computer and spend most of your day sitting at a desk, sit back until your buttocks touch the back of your chair and pull the computer toward you. This is better than sitting on the edge of your seat. Sitting in a straight chair also helps with your posture. You can pull your belly in, keep your shoulders back and your chest out.
Stretching is a simple strategy that can work to improve your posture, if it's done correctly. Once again, use a wall for support. Face a corner with your arms stretched out and your hands flat on both walls. Put one foot ahead of the other and bend your knee until you feel a nice stretch throughout your upper body. Hold this position for 20 to 30 seconds and rest. Then repeat with the other foot.
You need to stay consistent with keeping your back straight. A few minutes of correct posture won't do much if you are slouching the rest of the time. One effective way to keep yourself in check is to set reminders, kind of like alarms, that remind you to check your posture. You can start with frequent ones, as often as every 15 minutes even, until a straight posture becomes like second nature. Then, you can gradually increase the time in-between them until you don't need reminders at all.