Tips for Better Posture

If you find yourself experiencing back pain, or you’re unable to sit, stand, or sleep for long periods of time, then it’s possible that you, like millions of Americans, suffer from poor posture. Why does having poor posture matter? Poor posture doesn’t just affect your spinal cord and lead to back pain, it actually has a ton of implications that range from minor discomfort to more severe health issues. Improving your posture is important because it can help you to sleep better, feel better, and even look better. Here’s how you can improve your posture so that you can lead a better quality life.

One of the reasons poor posture is so prevalent in the U.S. is because many of us spend hours at a time each day sitting at a desk. Sitting at a desk for long periods of time can be extremely taxing on the body, and can lead to long-term health issues. Start by getting yourself a chair with lumbar support if you can, or switch it up and use a big bouncy ball to sit on. Sure, you may look silly, but it’s a great way to break out of the mold of sitting on the same type of chair each day, plus it gives your back, spine, and neck a bit of a break. Next, make sure that your chair and desk height isn’t causing you to lean, slouch, or tense up at the shoulders. Your desk height should be more or less in line with your elbows to allow for a comfortable angle when typing or writing. If necessary, you can sit on a cushion or other chair support to aid in helping your body sit upright and stable in your chair.

Another way you can improve your posture is to practice proper standing posture. If you normally stand leaning to the side, arms crossed, and shoulders up by your ears, then you’ll want to work on that, too. Try standing with your feet about shoulder width apart, arms by your sides, and knees slightly bent (not in a locked position). You should avoid sticking your stomach out in an attempt to straighten out your back—just stay relaxed, upright, and alert. Standing this way relieves pressure from your joints, especially your ankles, knees, and shoulders.

Posture habits doesn’t just surface when you’re sitting or standing—they can also be developed while you’re sleeping. You can improve your sleeping posture by doing some research on the type of mattress that is best suited for your body. If you’ve been sleeping on the same mattress for years, and find that it’s caved in, lumpy, or just plain uncomfortable, then it may be time to upgrade. Mattresses that are usually recommended for those with back problems, back pain, or sleeping discomfort related to posture or spinal injuries include memory foam or Tempurpedic mattresses. Both of these are designed specifically to give your joints a rest and position your body in the best way for your posture. You may want to visit a mattress specialist who can provide helpful information on exactly what type of firmness and texture is best for you.

You can begin every day by standing upright against a wall and aligning your shoulders to the wall behind you. Hold this position for 30 seconds each morning to remind yourself to work on your posture. If you find yourself slouching in the middle of the day, keep a reminder on your phone, post-it note, or a good old fashioned string around the finger to remind yourself throughout the day to straighten up. Another thing you can do is to start incorporating daily exercises or stretches into your routine. You could also try practicing yoga or pilates that is specifically designed to improve posture and relax the back.

If you feel like that you’ve tried most of these tips and are still experiencing poor posture, then you may want to talk to your doctor to see if there are any other health concerns that could be related, such as scoliosis.

Improving your posture is important for your body and it doesn’t have to be difficult to change your ways. By making small life changes, simple reminders, and adjusting your sitting, standing, or sleeping habits, you too can have great posture and live a better quality life.

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