In addition to brushing your teeth and exercising, standing up straight is imperative for a healthier, happier life. But if you're anything like me, your posture probably isn't exactly perfect. Finding ways to improve your posture might be on your agenda, but unless you seriously make standing up straight part of your daily routine, you probably still have to deal with a slouchy, painful back. Having good posture isn't just about standing tall and looking good — there are way more important things to factor in. While it can definitely improve your self-image and makes you feel more confident, it's really important to maintain good posture for health reasons, as well.
"When we feel good in our bodies, we feel good in life. Most people think I'm in the 'business' of posture, but I'm actually in the 'confidence restoration' business. Poor posture can lead to reduced vital lung capacity, chronic pain, early arthritis, pre-mature aging and low self-esteem. But having good posture makes us appear taller, leaner, younger and restores lost confidence," says online Posture Doctor from posturevideos.com Dr. Paula Moore in an interview with Bustle over email. No matter why you may be slouching, it's time to finally make an effort to stand up straight every single day. Of course, make sure to talk to a doctor if you find yourself constantly dealing with a painful back or scoliosis, but if constant or occasional slouching is your only issue, here are 11 ways to improve your posture.
1. Make It A Daily Habit
Being conscious about your poor posture can allow you to become more aware of how you look and feel. "Fidget, wiggle and stir! We often get obsessed with the latest quick fix wearable posture device - they simply don't work. If we want to improve our posture, we have to do the work. Making posture correction a daily habit can be fun," says Moore. Ask your friends to remind you to stand up straight anytime you slouch or pretend that you're constantly carrying a pile of books on top of your head to stand up straight better.
2. Do Active Sitting Exercises
If you have the type of job where you're constantly sitting at a desk — and can't get one of those nifty treadmill desks — try to do sitting exercises while you work to keep your posture in tact. "Every 30 minutes, stop what you are doing and turn your head right all the way and then left all the way (repeat 5 times) to reduce head and shoulder tension. Focus your eyes on something six feet away to rest your eyes," says Moore. "Then wiggle your buttocks for several seconds (to help realign the pelvis) and finally sit long and tall as if a giant balloon is attached to crown of your head lifting and lengthening you."
3. Take A Dance Class
Really want your body to move? Take some dancing lessons to help keep your back lean and straight. "Signing up for a ballroom dance class will let you quickly realize how far off your daily posture is. When working under the scrutiny of an instructor, you will be told over and over again how critical posture is to any style of dance from waltz to swing," says Brieanna Scolaro, LMSW, in an interview with Bustle over email. "Personally, I have been going to swing dance classes for the past 5 weeks and have noticed an increased awareness and improvement in my posture. If you have a dance partner, ask them to keep you in check and to let you know when you are slouching! If going to a dance studio is out of the question, there are plenty of videos on YouTube that can show you basics steps. Be sure to record yourself or practice in front of a mirror from time to time to analyze and correct your posture."
4. Drink A Lot Of Water
As you probably already know, staying hydrated is pretty vital to keeping healthy. But did you know it's also important for your back? "Stay hydrated. Hydrated tissues heal faster," says Moore.
5. Avoid Sitting For A Long Period Of Time
Sitting is the new smoking, right? While it can be easy to get lost for hours on your computer, make it a conscious effort to get up every once in a while to move your bod. "Avoiding sitting for longer than 60 minutes without a short break. Our tissues (spinal discs and muscles) need time recover from the compression and shortening caused by prolonged sitting," says Moore.
6. Don't Lean Into The Computer Screen
While the computer is great for watching cute puppy videos and doing work, it's not so great when it comes to preventing neck and shoulder tension. "Avoid leaning into the computer screen. Increase font size (ctrl+) to avoid perch sitting. Raise the computer screen so the middle of the screen is level with your eyes. This will help discourage forward head posture," says Moore.
7. Don't Jump Right Out Of Bed
"On waking, avoid jumping straight out of bed. The spinal discs need time to adapt to weight-bearing. Roll onto your side and push yourself into the sitting position. Wait for 60 seconds sitting on the side of the bed, and then get up with your body weight evenly over top of both feet, as if doing a squat. This simple morning routine can help avoid disc injury. People are generally unaware that the most common decade for prolapsed disc injury ('slipped discs') is in our 20s!" says Moore. After resting in bed for a bit, try to do small stretches to get your joints moving. Drink a cup of water (lemon is a bonus), and seize the day.
8. Avoid Looking Down At Your Phone
It's not very likely that you're looking at your phone directly straight on. Most likely, you're looking down at your phone which can create even more neck, back and shoulder tension — which could lead to making you slouch more often. "Excess screen time leading to Tech Neck — looking down to text," says Moore.
9. Build Your Self-Confidence
"Low self-esteem and not wanted to be judged or seen — this often begins with childhood shyness," says Moore. If you're not feeling confident about yourself, you could subconsciously be slouching more. This can tend to happen when you want to hide or don't want to partake in conversations with others. Don't try to hide yourself, stand proud, and love yourself for who you are.
10. Always Keep Your Body Moving
"The most common cause: the failure to move our bodies regularly. We have become slouch potatoes. Posture is not a gift, but a habit and a habit that we can learn to love by practicing Posturecise (what I call posture exercise), a little and often," says Moore. Rather than staying in bed all day, exercise for 30 minutes. This can keep your body limber and loose and can make your back feel amazing.
11. Find The Underlying Cause Of Your Bad Posture
"If someone's posture is very bad, I encourage that individual to find out the underlying cause. If a scoliosis is suspected or a noticeable neck hump or hunch back, that is a very strong indication that there are underlying alignment issues and a spinal x-ray may be advisable," says Moore. "Visit your doctor or chiropractor for assessment and x-ray examination. Both are primary healthcare physicians and neither require a referral." If you believe you have more than just "bad posture," don't try to fix it yourself. Make sure to seek a doctor who can help you out with professional help.
While having a good posture can make you look taller, it can also help build your self-esteem and overall health. Hopefully using these tricks will help you keep your head held high.
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