Bad posture doesn’t just appear out of the blue—it’s often the result of hours (days, weeks, and years) slumped in front of a computer, staring down at your phone, slouching on the couch, sleeping on a bad mattress, walking with heavy groceries, working long hours on your feet … the list goes on.
During such activities, your posture is often the last thing you’re thinking about. As your shoulders drift forward and your neck and head angle downward, you end up:
- Overstreching and weakening the muscles in the back and shoulders
- Shortening the muscles in your shoulders and chest
- Breathing less deeply
Gravity is no help either. The weaker your muscles get—from chronic bad posture and/or inactivity—the harder it is to literally pull yourself up. As your center of gravity leans forward, your risk for falling increases. Age affects changes in posture as well, often due to a loss of muscle mass and the redistribution of weight. Osteoporosis can also be a culprit. Brittle bones can lead to compression fractures in the back, which causes the spine to bend forward, a condition referred to as dowager’s hump or hyperkyhposis.
The good news is that most cases of bad posture can be dramatically improved with some diet and lifestyle adjustments, including regular movement, targeted strength and stretching exercises, enough calcium and vitamin D to maintain bone density, and a posture corrector to help address muscle imbalances and encourage your muscles to naturally hold a healthier posture.
A better posture, a better you.
Posture issues can detrimentally affect your well-being in more ways than you think. Poor posture will not only show on your body—you’ll very much feel it, too. Symptoms of poor posture include:
- Rounded shoulders
- Forward head posture (when the head leans forward, in front of the shoulders, instead of directly over them)
- Neck and back pain
- Recurring headaches
- Muscle fatigue
- Digestive issues
Beyond physical signs, bad posture can also lead to a decrease in your confidence, focus, and productivity. Making small improvements in your posture over time will help gradually reduce most, if not all, of these issues.
Three quick tips on how to improve your posture — starting now!
No matter your age, it’s never too late to improve your posture, even if you’re experiencing osteoporosis or broken vertebrae. Here are three tips to help you reverse any bad habits and start looking and feeling better.
1. Strengthen and stretch muscles in the upper back, chest, and core.
Be sure to incorporate resistance training (with bands like these) and weight-bearing exercises into your regular workout routine. Strong muscles allow you to naturally support the spine and maintain proper alignment.
Need some ideas? Join the 21-Day Etalon Posture Challenge. This 3-week program combines mind and body practices with a focus on posture. You’ll learn easy exercises to help build up strength in your shoulders and core and stretch out muscles in your neck, shoulders, chest, and back.
2. Take breaks.
What is causing your poor posture? Most likely a combination of activities that have you spending too much time in one position, whether that’s sitting or standing. If you’re working at a computer, be sure to schedule a quick break at least once an hour. It can be as quick as a few minutes. You can even set an alarm as a reminder. During that break, move, dance, stretch, whatever it takes to awaken your muscles (and likely your mind, too!).
3. Practice good posture habits—daily.
This may seem obvious, but it’s never too late to start being more mindful of your posture throughout the day. When sitting down, sit up straight with your back against the chair and your feet flat on the ground. One physical therapist suggests putting a rolled towel behind your shoulders when sitting down. This will encourage you to sit up straight so that the towel won’t fall . When standing for prolonged periods, be sure to distribute your weight evenly on both feet and engage your core muscles.
A posture corrector can also help improve your posture, without you having to even think about it. The Etalon® Posture Bra is a comfortable and fashionable way to train your muscle memory and get you standing up straight with less pain and more confidence.