If your mother was anything like mine, growing up you were constantly being told “stand up straight” or “don’t slouch.” And as much as it got on my nerves, maybe mom was right. Posture has become an increasing factor on back, shoulder, neck, and hip problems. The main issue arises when our accessory muscles begin to weaken, which makes trying to have good posture that much harder.
One of my college professors did an experiment with us in class one day. There were about 25 athletic twenty-somethings in our class. He asked us all to sit up straight in our desks for the entire class, which was fifty minutes. About ten minutes into class, I began to see a few classmates starting to slouch. About fifteen minutes in, I joined them! My back and shoulders became very sore in that short amount of time because my body had become so accustomed to taking the easy way out and slouching through everything. Even at work, in the car, at home on the couch, I don’t work on sitting up straight – and I’m sure I am not the only one!
Here are a few tips to help work on posture:
- Stand up straight: Easier said than done! But at the grocery store or getting ready in the morning start noticing how you are standing. Make an effort if you walk by a mirror to notice and correct yourself. Head up, shoulders square, chin up, chest out, and stomach in. Easy right? Start slowly, maybe 5 minutes at a time and gradually increase until it becomes more like second nature. (You will probably have some soreness).
- Sit properly: If you are desk bound or have to sit a lot throughout the day, make sure you are sitting up straight as well as proper. Make sure your feet can touch the ground. Your desk chair should be fitted for you height. Having your back aligned with the office chair forces you to not slouch. If the chair does not fit you well they do make lumbar support pillows that can also help provide support to allow you to sit up straight. If you do sit for long periods of time force yourself at least every hour to get up and take a lap around the office or go refill your water, anything to get up and moving for a little bit.
- Strengthen your core: It is easy on our muscles for us to slouch. When you stand up straight you require your core muscles to activate which helps to maintain a better posture. For those with weak core muscles, it is much harder to stand or sit up straight.
These tips should all be worked on over time. Correction of bad posture habits can take a while to become routine. Don’t get frustrated with sore muscles – the soreness means it’s working!