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How to Improve Posture: 14 Tips to Help You Stand Tall, Sit Right, and Sleep Painlessly

Find yourself slouching in your chair at work, standing with a hunchback, or waking up with a crooked neck? Here’s how to improve posture.
by Vanessa Gibbs | Nov 9 2022

Our everyday lives aren’t set up to give us good posture. Most of us spend the day hunched over a keyboard, starting at a computer screen. We travel home with our necks bent over our phones, then spend the evening slouching on the sofa in front of the TV. 

It’s no wonder we’re plagued with back pain, hunchbacks, and poor posture. 

But, there are simple changes you can make and exercises you can do to help you stand tall. 

Why is Good Posture Important? 

First up, why should you improve your posture in the first place? Well, good posture has endless benefits and it affects your body all the time, including when sitting at work, relaxing on the sofa, walking around outside, and when sleeping.  

Good posture leads to: 

  • More confidence and self-esteem
  • Less strain on your bones, muscles, ligaments, and joints 
  • Increased lung capacity 
  • Fewer headaches 
  • Reduced risk of injury 
  • Better digestion 
  • Increased energy

Read on to find out how to get it. 

How to Improve Posture 

Here’s how to improve your posture, whether you’re sitting, standing, or laying down. 

1. Adjust Your Work Desk  

If you work at a desk, chances are you spend hours a day hunched over a keyboard, sitting awkwardly on an uncomfortable chair, or typing at an angle that puts strain on your arms and wrists. 

On your journey to good posture, start by making adjustments to your desk set up. 

Here’s what you should think about: 

  • Your desk should be level with your elbows, so your forearms are parallel to the floor when you’re typing. 
  • Invest in a monitor if you don’t already use one, and set it up so that the top of the screen is in line with your eye level. You may need to place it on a box or stand to get it high enough. 
  • Your feet should be flat on the floor, or flat on a footrest. 

2. Get the Right Desk Chair 

You probably spend hours every week sitting on your desk chair, so make sure it’s one that’s helping your posture, not hurting it. 

Look for a desk chair that’s adjustable, so you can be the right height for your desk and monitor. 

Aim to have your: 

  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Legs the same height as your hips
  • Back flat against the chair, avoid sitting forward on the edge of your seat.

You should also opt for a chair that has lumbar support for your lower back and armrests to take the strain off your shoulders. 

3. Don’t Hunch Your Shoulders

One of the easiest bad posture habits to have is hunching your shoulders. You might do it when you’re stressed, tired, or simply walk around all day with shoulders that basically touch your eyes. 

Train yourself to relax and roll your shoulders back and down. 

If you find hunching is a habit you can’t break, try setting an alarm on your phone to go off every hour to remind you to check in with where your shoulders are at. 

Practice yoga or gentle stretching to ease your upper back and neck muscles to help. 

4. Wear Supportive Footwear 

It’s hard to have good posture if you’re in four-inch heels or tight loafers. Swap fashion for function and opt for supportive footwear.

As consumers become more health conscious, you may even find supportive footwear that is also fashionable. 

Supportive footwear should be wide enough for your toes to not be squashed together and have a flat sole with some structural support, especially if you spend a lot of time on your feet. 

5. Take Regular Breaks 

Sitting or standing in any position for a long period of time, even with good posture, can cause strain and muscle fatigue. So, make sure to take several short breaks throughout the day. 

If you’re sitting at your desk at work, take a break at least once an hour to get up and move around. Do some jumping jacks, gentle stretches, and move your shoulders, arms, and back around. If you’ve got time, go for a quick walk around the block. 

A standing desk can be a great way to keep working while changing your position, but remember to take breaks from standing, too. 

Try alternating between sitting, standing, and walking around throughout the workday. 

6. Use a Headset if Spend a Lot of Time on the Phone 

If your job involves you spending a lot of time on the phone, invest in a headset to improve your posture. It’ll stop you from straining your neck when holding the phone between your shoulder and ear. 

Using a pair of headphones while on the phone can also help. 

7. Support Your Back While Driving 

Got a long drive coming up or spend a lot of time in the car? Don’t neglect your posture here. 

Place a small pillow or a rolled-up towel behind your lower back to support the natural curve of your spine. 

Your legs should also be in line with your hips and your arms shouldn’t have to overextend — adjust your seat and steering wheel to get this right. 

And, as with every position, take breaks as often as you can to move around. 

8. Uncross Your Legs 

Whether it’s at your desk or on the sofa, if you find yourself crossing your legs or tucking them under you, make an effort to stretch them out and not rest them on top of each other. 

Crossing your legs puts strain on your knee and ankles, and it can even affect your circulation.

If you really can’t break the crossed-legs habit, make an effort to change position often and get up and move around when spending long periods of time sitting like this. 

 9. Strengthen Your Core 

Your core muscles are vital to good posture. With a stronger core, you’ll slouch less, stand up taller, have less back pain, and have more balance and stability. 

Good core exercises include: 

    • Leg raises: Lay on the ground with your legs straight and hands under your butt. Lift your legs together until they’re perpendicular to the floor, then slowly lower them to the ground again. Repeat for three sets of 15 repetitions. 
    • Plank: Start in the top of a press-up position, with your arms, legs, and back straight. You can also rest on your forearms if this is more comfortable. Hold this position for 60 seconds, without letting your hips come too far up or down. 
  • Flutter kicks: Lay on your back with your legs stretched out straight. Lift them off slightly off the floor and slowly kick them alternatively, like you would when swimming. You can also perform this exercise facing down to help strengthen your back, too. 

10. Stand Evenly on Both Legs 

When you think of bad posture, most of us think of hunched shoulders and curved upper backs, but your legs play a huge part, too. 

When standing, it’s easy to tilt over to one side, pop a hip, and place most of your weight on one leg. 

The worst part? We often have a favorite side, continuously putting weight and strain onto the same leg, leading to imbalances and muscle tightness. 

Make an effort to stand evenly on both legs, with your hips at the same height and back straight. 

11. Lift Your Phone to Prevent Tech Neck 

Tech neck is when you spend all your time hunched over a phone or computer, leading to a bulge at the top of your spine. 

Having your monitor at eye level at work will help, but don’t neglect your phone. 

You can prevent phone-related tech neck by taking frequent breaks when looking down at your phone and stretching out your neck and shoulders regularly. 

Try lifting your phone up so it’s in line with your eyesight, or at least close to it, so your head doesn’t need to hang so much to look at the screen. 

12. Don’t Forget Your Sleeping Posture 

Good posture extends to how you sleep, too. After all, you’re spending eight hours — hopefully — in bed. 

Aim to keep your spine aligned as you sleep. You can do this in a few ways: 

  • Invest in a mattress that suits your preferred sleeping position. 
  • Use a thin pillow if you sleep on your back or front, and a thicker pillow if you sleep on your side to keep your head in line with your spine. 
  • Try placing a small pillow between your legs if you sleep on your side, or under the knees if you sleep on your back to reduce strain. 
  • If possible, avoid sleeping on your front as it forces you to twist your neck. 

13. Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Being overweight places even more pressure on your joints, ligaments, and muscles than everyday life does. It also makes standing and sitting with good posture harder to do as excess fat gets in the way of your muscles doing their job. 

If you need to lose weight, focus on eating a healthy diet, getting plenty of exercise, and prioritizing sleep each night. Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of friends, family, and professionals to help you lose weight if you need it.  

14. Become More Aware of Your Posture 

Bad posture is often a habit you simply slip into. Of course, improving your desk setup and strengthening your core will help, but sometimes you need to be aware of when you’re slouching or leaning on one leg to help you snap out of it. 

You can become more aware of your body and posture by: 

  • Setting reminders on your phone throughout the day. 
  • Asking friends and colleagues to let you know when they notice you sitting or standing with bad posture. 
  • Wearing a device around your shoulders and chest that vibrates when it detects bad posture. 
  • Practicing yoga and meditation to become more mindful and aware of your body.

Want more tips to improve your life? We’ve covered what to do during a commute, how to organize your desk, and how to give an elevator pitch

 

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