Do you want to Improve Posture? Your posture is the position your body is in for an extended period of time. This includes the time you spend sitting, standing and sleeping.
If we are in a bad posture for an extended period of time, this will reflect on our body and health.
Our bodies are good at adapting to what we demand from it. This is known as the SAID Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands).
Our bodies are designed to move. Our ancestors probably didn’t have a lot of posture problems because they had to be much more active than us. Whether it was for hunting, farming, constructing or even traveling, there was a lot of physical labor involved for everyone. This means that they were not stuck in the same position for an extended period of time.
Unfortunately, today, our lives are more sedentary than ever. We rarely even have to stand for long periods of time. For most of us, our jobs don’t require physical activity and on the contrary, our jobs demand the complete opposite. We are required to sit in front of a computer for hours on end.
Simply the amount of time we’re stuck in a position forces our body to adapt to that posture. Even if that position does not cause any pain or discomfort, when we get out of those positions, it can be painful/uncomfortable.
Many people get injured while exercising not because of the exercise itself but because they are in a bad position most of the time.
We pay attention to our form and technique in the gym but what about the rest of the day? We may be in the gym for an hour but what about the remaining 23 hours in a day?
You can have really good technique while training and still get injured because of having poor posture.
What is Good Posture?
Good posture involves 2 things:
- Maintaining a Biomechanically Good Position.
Our bodies are designed to move in certain ways. If we move in or maintain incorrect positions, this goes against our biomechanics.
For Example, our spine is supposed to have a natural curvature that allows us it to carry our bodyweight in the safest position. If we deviate from this, it can cause pain.
- Not staying in the same position for too long
Even if we maintain a good position, it is not a good idea to stay in the same position for too long. This can cause unnecessary fatigue & wear and tear to our posture muscles and joints.
Benefits of Having Good posture
Chronic pain to the neck, back and shoulders can be improved
Decreased chances of Injury
We get injured because we’re in poor positions for all day/night. Having good posture keeps us in the safest position possible
Maintaining good posture lead to better overall health and longevity
Your psychology follows your physiology. If you stand tall with a proud chest, you are more likely to be more confident than if you were slouching.
More Muscle Activation
In order to maintain good posture, you will have to use your posture muscles more.
More Calories Burned
In order to maintain good posture, you will have to use more muscle and stay more active. This will increase how many calories you burn in a day.
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10 Ways to Improve Posture
The key to improving posture is to be consistent with it. You have to consistently maintain good posture if you want to improve it
Just as bad posture is an adaptation, you will have to adapt to a better posture over time. It will be difficult in the beginning because you may have developed bad habits with your posture over time.
Note: I am not a doctor or physical therapist. These are the top things that have worked for me through my own research and working with some of the most knowledgeable professionals in this field.
#1 Be Mindful
The first thing you can do is to learn about the correct posture for your specific issues. For example, you may have rounded shoulders or a rounded back.
You have to be mindful about the positions you are in throughout the day. Being mindful means that you’re aware of what’s going on in the present moment. Every time you sit or stand, you have to be mindful whether you’re in a good position or not.
Tip: Set reminders to check your posture throughout the day. You can even use sticky notes on your desk to remind yourself to maintain good posture.
#2 Use a Stand-up Desk
Do you keep track of how many hours you sit in a day? We sit while we are at work/school, driving, eating, watching TV etc.
Pay attention to how many hours we sit in a day. It’s not that sitting is inherently bad. Even if you sit in a good position for a prolonged period of time, it can be bad for your posture overall.
When we sit for a long time, our blood circulation to the different muscles is reduced. Many of the posture muscles also become inactive. For example, the largest muscle in the body is the Gluteus Maximus aka the butt muscles.
If we sit on our butt all day, those muscles become inactive and as a result, we will have muscle imbalances.
I’ve been using a stand-up desk for the past 2 years and it’s been a game-changer. Standing more is one of the easiest ways to improve posture.
As a powerlifter, I used to have a lot of posture problems and aches and pains. Ever since I started using a stand-up desk, I rarely get these problems.
Benefits of Stand-Up Desks
- More Muscle Activation
- Better Posture
- Freedom to Move
- Increased Blood Circulation
- More Calories Burned
Recommended Stand-up desk: FlexiSpot Standing Desk
This is super easy to setup and can be placed on top of your regular desk.
Tip: Alternate between sitting and standing throughout the day. This will prevent you from staying in one position for too long and getting fatigued.
#3 Use Posture Correction Exercises and Mobility Drills
Based on your unique posture problems, you can do certain exercises and mobility drills to correct them.
For example, if you sit a lot, chances are that you have tight hips and rounded shoulders. You can correct this by stretching your hips and strengthening your back and shoulder muscles.
A simple google search for ‘Corrective Exercises for_______’ or ‘Mobility for _____’ , will help you find the best exercises/mobility drills.
#4 Fix Muscle Imbalances
A lot of the posture problems are caused by muscle imbalances. Inactivity can lead to some muscles being more inactive than others.
For example, if you sit all day, your posterior chain muscles, including your back, rear delts, glutes and hamstrings will be inactive/underdeveloped. Then id you go to the gym and only workout the muscles you can see in the mirror (chest, arms, abs), you will ultimately develop some muscle imbalances.
#5 Take a Break / Stay Active
Take a break from work every hour if possible. Step away from your desk and walk around a bit if possible. You can even use this time to stretch your tight muscles.
It is important to stay active to avoid being in the same position for extended periods of time.
You can also improve posture by taking short walks of 5-10 minutes throughout the day. These will also help with blood circulation, improved recovery, reduced stress and feeling refreshed.
#6 Use a High-Quality Mattress
We sleep about 8 hours each night. This means that we spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping. Many people complain about having back pain or neck pain when they wake up.
The position in which we sleep in can give us bad posture.
One of the simplest ways of improving posture is to get a high-quality mattress and pillows. Fortunately, there are so many affordable options available today.
I personally use a Memory Foam Mattress, which conforms to your body shape.
I also use a Memory Foam Knee Pillow. This has also helped me keep my hips and knees aligned when I sleep.
Also, make sure to replace your mattress and pillows periodically if you feel they’ve worn out.
#7 Seek Professional Help
If you have severe posture problems, pain, and injuries, it is best to take help from a physical therapist and/or a chiropractor. If he/she works with athletes, that’s even better.
A professional PT/Chiro knows these recurring patterns and has worked with hundreds of people with the exact same issues you have.
Fortunately, I have access to some of the best in the field and they have definitely helped me become a better athlete.
You could do a google search for a qualified person or you could go to Clinical Athlete to find a PT/Chiro who works with athletes.
#8 Breathe Deep
How we breathe affects our energy, confidence, and mood. Typically, if we’re working at a desk, we’re used to shallow breathing. This can lead to a poor posture.
You can improve posture simply by breathing deep. When you breathe deep, you automatically have a proud chest and a straight back.
#9 Strength Training
Strength training is crucial if you want to improve posture. A sedentary lifestyle is a big culprit in a lot of health problems today including obesity.
Obesity by itself can also lead to poor posture and pain.
A sedentary lifestyle leads to inactive/weak muscles. We need strong muscles to support and improve posture.
Strength training not only improves muscle strength and size, but it also improves muscular endurance. This means that you not only have better posture, but you can also maintain better posture for a longer period of time.
Strength training also strengthens your bones, joints, and ligaments. These are crucial in living a pain-free life.
When strength training to improve posture, you should do exercises which will develop your body evenly. If you only focus on certain body parts and not others, you will eventually develop imbalances, which will lead to bad posture.
For example, if you train your chest, you should also train your back equally hard. If you train your quads you should also train your hamstrings.
The best overall exercises are compound exercises, which use multiple muscles at the same time.
- Bench Press
- Overhead Press
- Pull-Ups & Chin Ups
- Bicep Curls
- And variations of these exercises.
There are hundreds of variations of all of these exercises combined.
Once you have a routine which incorporates all of these foundational exercises, you can also use other isolation exercises to correct weaknesses.
#10 Stretch Often
It’s very common these days to have tight hips, hamstrings, shoulders etc. It’s a great idea to stretch these muscles regularly. You can even try some Yoga if you wish. The more often you do it, the better it will become.
Summary – How To Improve Posture
We need to improve posture in order to stay healthy and pain-free.
Having a sedentary lifestyle is the main reason why we have poor posture.
Benefits of Improving Posture
- Less Pain
- Increased Longevity
- Increased Muscle Activation
- Decreased Chances of Injury
10 Ways to Improve Posture
- Be Mindful of Your Posture
- Use a Stand-up Desk
- Use Corrective Exercises
- Fix Muscle Imbalances
- Use a high-quality Mattress
- Stay Active
- Breathe Deep
- Seek Professional Help
- Strength Training
- Stretch Often
Do you have additional tips to improve posture? Comment below!