Posture Check: Are You Making These Mistakes? 3 Good Posture Exercises to Try

By Krista

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Last Updated: August 18, 2022

Your parents might have barked at you growing up to “stand up straight” or “quit slouching!” And they weren’t just being “parents.” The truth is poor posture can drastically impact your quality of life and your health. 

For instance, slouching can actually end up leading to breathing problems due to the reduced amount of space in the thoracic cavity. That’s pretty significant if you ask me!

So, let’s examine this a little closer.

What common mistakes might you be making?

How can you improve your posture?

 

 

Good Posture vs. Bad Posture

The hard part, especially if you are prone to bad posture, is figuring out what “good” posture looks like or feels like. So, let’s start by outlining bad posture first.

What does poor posture look like? You can probably take a few guesses here! Essentially, this usually involves rounded shoulders, abdominal weakness, low back weakness, forward head posture, and neck pain. Anything that throws the spine out of its natural alignment is considered bad posture. 

Meanwhile, good posture involves maintaining the three natural curves of the spine, which is where the body is under the least amount of stress possible when standing or sitting.

This means your shoulders rest directly above your hips and your head rests above your shoulders (unlike “forward head posture” where the neck protrudes forward, frequently leading to neck and shoulder pain).

 

 

What is the Importance of Good Posture?

While physical pain usually occurs with bad posture, there are also other adverse effects associated with slouching.

As mentioned, this can impact your breathing and lung capacity. It can also mean less room for your internal organs—even leading to digestive issues like constipation, bloating, and gas.

In turn, this can substantially decrease your quality of life. 

Many people tend to succumb to poor posture when sitting for work as the day goes on. Yet, good sitting posture isn’t just about what you do when you’re sitting. With that in mind, some common postural mistakes that you might not even notice you’re making include:

  • Avoiding movement throughout your day or taking breaks.
  • Using a chair that’s not the right height or a desk that’s too high or too low.
  • Protruding your neck forward to stare at your cellphone or computer screen (You may even be doing this right now!).
  • Sticking your butt out when standing or sitting.
  • Sitting cross-legged.

Related Article: Chronic Pain? This is for You

 

 

How to Have Good Posture When Sitting

Alright, so what should you be doing? Here are a few tips:

  • Make sure your hips, knees, and ankles are at 90-degrees with your feet flat on the ground. 
  • Support your back! Whether you add a low back support or purchase an ergonomic chair, you want to ensure your back is properly supported so it’s easy to assume good posture.
  • Have your screen at eye level, so you don’t crane your neck forward or need to squint to see your screen.
  • Ensure your keyboard is 4-6 inches from the edge of your desk so that you can easily rest your wrists, so you avoid wrist strain. A wrist pad is another easy way to level this up!
  • Position your mouse so it’s in reach (and you don’t physically have to reach your arm far to grab it when needed). 
  • Take breaks every hour or so to stretch, move, or simply walk around!

Related Article: 5 Surprising Reasons You Should Book That Relaxing Massage Right Now

 

3 Good Posture Exercises

If you’re noticing your posture isn’t what it used to be or could be improved, you’re in luck; many exercises can help.

Some of these include (but should in no way replace those recommended to you by your chiropractor or physio):

 

The Seated Row

This exercise helps strengthen the muscles of the mid and upper back, keeping your shoulders blades down and back. In turn, this brings your shoulders back and opens up your chest. 

For this exercise, you can use a band and affix it to a stable object, keeping one end in each hand. Seated on a chair, start with your arms extended, then slowly bend your elbows, pulling the band toward you. At the same time, gently pinch your shoulder blades down and back. Pause once your elbows are just past your torso, then slowly return to the start. 

  • Perform this exercise 10-15 times, 2-4 times a week.

 

The Chest Stretch

The chest muscles (also called the pectoralis muscles) can become shortened when hunched over for long durations. Thus, stretching this area can help counterbalance this and prevent this from becoming a permanent posture.

For stretching your chest, find a doorway and place both forearms on the door frame at shoulder height. Step one foot through the doorway and slowly lean in. You should feel a gentle stretch through the front of your chest.

  • Hold here for 20-30 seconds, and do this every second day.

 

Child’s Pose

This stretch is often prescribed by movement experts when combating low back pain.

This is because it helps your back, shoulders, hips, and more completely relax. This can help release a lot of tension in the body that leads to bad posture.

To perform the child’s pose, start on all fours, then bring your buttocks back down to rest on your heels. Keep your arms extended and bring your forehead down to rest on the ground. Hold here for at least 30 seconds (or more!).

  • Do this one every day if possible!

 

 

Straighten Up!

“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.” —Morihei Ueshiba

No more slouching! Good posture makes you appear both confident and healthy. And unfortunately, most of us neglect our posture until health issues or pain make it our problem. Instead, work on good posture always, and you won’t have to endure injury or problems down the road. 

Read Next: Here’s How To Appear More Confident Even If You’re Not

Photo by Karolina Grabowska

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