How to improve your posture: top tips and advice on building a healthy back and good posture
Want to learn how to improve your posture and build a healthy back and spine? You're in the right place. Read on for top tips and exercises for creating and maintaining good posture.
Head up, chest out, stomach in: there’s much more behind this tip than just looking good and gaining a bit of extra confidence. While you’re reading this sentence, your posture is likely the opposite: head down, shoulders forward, and a rounded back. Caught in the act?
Many people sit in front of computers or laptops for hours on end, and even when we’re not working, we’re glued to our smartphones or recovering from a tiring day spent sitting in front of a screen on the couch. On average, we sit for seven hours a day, and one in four people sits for over nine hours daily. Therefore, poor posture has become a sort of common illness or even a new form of smoking.
All the sitting, lack of movement, and the so-called “tech neck” caused by looking down at our smartphones lead to bad posture, which manifests itself in various ways, including back pain. If you want to make a significant change to your posture and do a lot for your health and well-being, you need to be patient. However, you can make it easier with a few everyday tips and exercises for good posture.
Five tips and exercises for a healthy back
Here are some top tips to help keep your back and spine healthy and how to improve your posture in everyday life.
1. Stand up regularly
Sitting for long periods is detrimental to your posture, and you need to stand up regularly to counteract this. You should leave your desk at least once an hour and move around. Aim to take at least 250 steps when you do. One tip to make it more fun is to take a longer route to the toilet or kitchen. While you’re at it, stretch your entire body, reach your arms up, and move your spine from side to side while taking deep breaths.
2. Proper head position
When you’re working in front of a screen, you may find yourself holding your head in one position for an extended period, which can lead to a forward head posture. Therefore, it’s essential to check and correct your head position regularly. Your head should sit directly above your shoulders to achieve an ideal position for a relaxed neck. Slightly move the back of your head back and lower your chin to achieve this position. That way, the weight of your head is carried by the bones along the spine.
3. Exercise: build muscles
A strong back is crucial for preventing pain and improving posture. An active life and exercise can help you achieve this. You can learn the best exercises for a straight back from yoga or Pilates (confused about the difference between them? Check out our guide). Swimming or Deep Work, a form of fitness training, can also strengthen your back muscles and promote proper posture.
4. Sit properly
If you’re required to sit all day for work, it’s vital to sit properly without a rounded back. Here are the basics for an upright sitting posture:
- Sit upright with a slightly forward-tilted pelvis and a right angle in your knees.
- Drop your shoulders without tension and let them fall back and down.
- Raise your chest slightly forward and upward.
- Stretch the back of your head backwards and upward, so your cervical spine is stretched.
5. Make healthy posture a habit
To develop the habit of proper posture, you need to remind yourself of it repeatedly. This could be done through a post-it note on your computer screen, a reminder on your phone, or loved ones who draw your attention to your rounded back.
Three exercises for better posture
To improve posture and prevent back pain, there are postures that promote optimal body posture. These are the right exercises to correct bad back posture:
1. Rounded back exercise (Cat-cow)
The back exercise, which originates from yoga, makes the spine flexible, mobilizes the back muscles, and helps to release tension. The best thing is that cat-cow is the perfect exercise for beginners.
- The starting position is the tabletop position on a surface, ideally on a yoga mat or exercise mat.
- With a relaxed inhale, lift the head slightly and bring the back into a controlled arch.
- With the exhale, the movement goes in the opposite direction: round the back and look towards the navel. You should feel a stretch between the shoulder blades.
- Repeat this sequence several times until the upper body feels relaxed and light.
2. Shoulder bridge
The shoulder bridge is a pure pleasure for the body and an effective exercise for back pain and poor posture. The anti-round back position strengthens the legs, buttocks, and back while stretching the front upper body and neck. Lie on your back and place your feet hip-width apart near your buttocks.
- Press your feet into the mat and lift your hips up.
- Cross your hands under your buttocks and bring your shoulder blades closer together. Hold the pose for ten breaths.
- Then lift your heels and roll your back down to the ground, vertebra by vertebra.
3. Upward facing dog
Perfect for a round back: the upward-facing dog is a backbend that intensively opens the chest, counteracting a round back. Other benefits include stretching the abdomen, shoulders, and quadriceps. This exercise can be combined well with the above ones.
- Lie on your stomach and activate your entire core musculature (tighten your abs).
- Place your palms next to your chest on the mat; keep your elbows close to your body.
- Now press both hands firmly into the ground. With the next inhalation, stretch your arms and lift your upper body as well as your legs (including your knees) off the ground.
- Take a deep breath. Lower back down to the ground.
How poor posture develops and the benefits of good posture
Understanding the development and effects of poor posture is essential for improving our overall health and well-being. Let’s delve deeper into the world of body posture, explore the key factors contributing to poor posture and discover the benefits of a straight back.
Understanding body posture
The term “body posture” generally refers to the alignment of the body against gravity. Good body posture helps evenly distribute constant forces acting on joints, preventing overuse. However, prolonged sitting, lack of movement, or one-sided muscle strain can lead to poor posture. Poor posture usually manifests in shoulders hanging forward, a lowered head, and an excessively curved upper back.
The effects of poor posture on the body
A curvature in the thoracic spine resulting from poor posture can cause neck and shoulder tension, back pain, headaches, stiff muscles, and adhesions in the fascia. With a pronounced round back, individuals may experience difficulty breathing as the chest collapses forward, restricting chest volume and preventing full lung expansion. In severe cases, back pain may radiate into the arms or legs.
The benefits of a straight posture
Improving posture has numerous benefits for overall health and well-being. Good posture changes how others perceive us because our impact on others is 55% based on body language, followed by voice and speech.
In addition, maintaining good posture improves mobility, prevents pain, and promotes complete air intake. Shallow or short breathing due to poor posture can make the body acidic, leading to feelings of stress or anger.
How to maintain a good posture
There are simple ways to maintain good posture throughout the day. Firstly, it’s important to maintain a neutral spine position while sitting or standing. Avoid slouching or hunching over. Instead, keep the head up and shoulders relaxed. When sitting, ensure your feet are flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs. A chair with good back support can also help maintain good posture while seated.
Regular exercise is another important factor in maintaining good posture. Exercise strengthens muscles, improves mobility, and helps counteract the effects of prolonged sitting. Yoga, Pilates, and weight training are all effective forms of exercise for improving posture.
Finally, be mindful of posture throughout the day. Make a habit of periodically checking posture and adjusting as necessary. With time and practice, maintaining good posture can become second nature, leading to a healthier and more comfortable body.
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