Our 10 Best Tips To Fix Bad Posture
Good posture – just how important is it?
When it comes to taking care of your body, good posture ranks right up there with exercise, eating healthy, and sleeping right. Having good posture not only looks better, but how we sit, stand and walk can have a huge effect on our day-to-day health and mood.
So if your posture could use a little help – especially now, with so many of us working from home – here are a few ways to improve it.
But first, why should we even care about posture?
The Effects of Good posture vs. Bad posture
Researchers at Auckland University recently did a groundbreaking study that examined the effect of posture on how effectively our bodies are able to handle stress. They put two groups through the Trier social stress test, in which participants were required to give presentations and perform mental math in front of a panel of judges. One group was assigned to perform the test with a slumped posture, the other with an upright posture, and their backs were strapped with physiotherapy tape to hold this posture throughout the study.
Not only did they find that the group with good posture had lower blood pressure and pulse rates during and immediately after the study, but they also noted that the upright posture group reported higher self-esteem, better mood and a lower sense of fear in comparison to those with slouched posture.
It has a lot to do with how well we’re able to breathe – when we’re slouched, our breathing is restricted because our lungs aren’t able to fully expand, leading to reduced oxygen intake. This results in increased stress, fatigue, negative moods and decreased motivation.
The takeaway: better posture helps you deal with daily stress significantly better.
And that’s not even taking into account the structural changes that happen with chronic bad posture. At some point something has to give – it might not be today, next week or even next year, but eventually your body is going to be affected.
1. Evaluate your posture
Before we get into how to fix your posture, let’s determine if you’re standing properly in the first place. Test your back and neck posture by standing with your back against a wall or use this posture evaluation guide with a camera to identify the areas that need improvement.
To check your posture against a wall:
- Stand with your heels 6 inches from the wall and the back of your head, shoulder blades and butt touching the wall.
- Have someone measure the space between your neck and the wall, and the space between your back and the wall. There should be less than 2 inches between both spaces. A gap larger than 2 inches indicates poor posture and increased curvature of the spine
2. Strengthen your core
Exercises that strengthen your core will help you stand taller, improve balance and stability, promote good posture and proper pelvic tilt, and help alleviate back pain. But don’t just go crank out hundreds of sit-ups – they’re terrible for your spine and pelvis. Instead, try these three exercises, also known as McGill’s Big 3, which can improve core strength while protecting your spine and preventing back pain.
3. Sit at a 110º angle
Sitting too much isn’t good for your posture, period. But when you do have to sit, make sure you’ve got a quality chair that supports your spine and pelvis and is ergonomically adapted to your workspace. Studies have shown that sitting in a slightly reclined posture with your feet flat on the ground puts less wear and tear on the spinal disks and the surrounding muscles and tendons.
4. Keep your phone & computer screen at eye level
Position your phone and computer monitor straight ahead at eye level, not downward. A 2014 study on text neck — also called tech neck, a problem caused by constantly looking down at your computer screen or phone — found that when you hold your head in line with your shoulders, it only weighs about 10 pounds. But for every inch you tilt it forward, the amount of weight it places on your spine nearly doubles. Doing so can have severe effects on your body.
5. Correct ‘computer guy’ muscle imbalances
A huge portion of the patients I see at Ascent Chiropractic have some degree of forward head posture, also known as ‘computer guy posture’, characterized by a hunched upper back with slumped shoulders and a flattened neck curve that makes the head jut forward.
Forward head posture is usually the result of a muscle imbalance – some muscles being too short and tight, and the opposite muscles being too long and weak. The ‘shortened’ muscles in this scenario are usually the pec minor, SCM and scalene muscles. The ‘lengthened’, or stretched out muscles, are the rhomboids, lats, mid and lower traps, and the thoracic extensors. Here’s our guide to reversing this muscle imbalance with targeted stretches and exercises.
6. Use the Nekoze and Upright apps to keep an eye on your posture
Constantly remembering to sit and stand with good posture all day is tough. Thankfully there are apps to help. Nekoze is a favorite of my patients at Ascent Chiropractic – it uses your laptop’s camera to keep an eye on your posture and alerts you when you’re slouching.
Like Nekoze, Upright makes use of technology to improve your posture. The app connects to a small device you attach to your upper back and gently vibrates your phone whenever you slouch.
7. Adjust your sleeping posture
For most people, sleeping on your back is the best position for your spine and pelvis. Back sleeping evenly distributes pressure and promotes proper alignment of your head, neck and spine. Even better, prop your knees up with a pillow – it helps support your pelvis and maintain the natural curve of your lower back.
Here’s our guide for getting spine-friendly zzz’s!
8. Correct anterior pelvic tilt
One of the most common postural problems I see at Ascent Chiropractic is called anterior pelvic tilt, in which your hips tilt forward and your tailbone (or sacrum) tilts up and back. It’s a posture problem that’s found in just about everyone who spends most of their day sitting at a desk. The easiest visual clues to look for are a forward tipped pelvis, increased lower back curve (sway back), and a “bulging” (not necessarily fat) abdomen. Here’s how to fix it.
9. Get up and MOVE every 30 minutes
Your body was made to move: a full 90% of the stimulation and nutrition sent to the brain is created by movement in your spine. If you’re spending extended periods of time sitting, you’re much more likely to start slouching forward as fatigue sets in. Set a timer to get up and move around every 30-45 minutes, even if it’s just to grab a glass of water or use the bathroom.
Even better, look into your company’s standing desk policy, or consider investing in one for your home office.
10. Get adjusted by your chiropractor!
Chiropractic adjustments help restore proper posture by correcting abnormal joint movement in the spine and pelvis, and studies have shown that they’re incredibly effective at doing so. In fact, a 2004 study found that scoliosis patients receiving 4–6 weeks of chiropractic treatment averaged a 62% reduction of the abnormal curvature.
Need a chiropractor in Brookfield? At Ascent Chiropractic we correct problems in the spine using low-force chiropractic techniques combined with the best of soft tissue therapies to get results that are unmatched anywhere. If you’re in the Brookfield, Waukesha, Wauwatosa, New Berlin or Milwaukee areas and suffering from the effects of bad posture, we’d love to help you get started with chiropractic care. Make an appointment at Ascent Chiropractic in Brookfield by calling 262-345-4166 or schedule an appointment with our online scheduling app.