Fix your Bad Posture
If your back aches after a long commute or you get a stiff neck from working at the computer, bad posture may be to blame. Realistically, most do not even consider proper posture until they have pain,. Good posture isn’t about keeping your spine ramrod straight—no one can do that 100% of the time. Instead, it’s important to know what proper alignment (of your head, shoulders, hips, and knees) feels like so you can self-correct when your body starts getting out of whack.
Make these quick posture fixes to stop slouching and prevent pain. (Bonus: Proper posture can make you look 5 pounds slimmer!)
When you stand:
- Do: Check your stance by standing in front of a mirror. Facing sideways, line up your ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. Notice how your body feels when it’s aligned correctly.
- Don’t: Round your shoulders, arch your back, or jut your chin forward.
In the car:
- Do: Keep the seat at a 90-degree angle.
- Do: Use a small pillow behind your lower back for extra support.
- Do: Tilt your rearview mirror up a little bit. This will help your posture by making you sit up straighter to see out the back window. You should still be able to see clearly out the back.
- Don’t: Sit too far away from the steering wheel. Stretching your legs out can strain your back, Your knees should be level with your hips.
When you wear heels
- Do: Be more conscious of your posture when you wear heels. Make sure your ears, shoulders, and hips stay aligned as you walk.
- Do: Save sky-high pairs (more than 3 inches) for events when you don’t have to stand or walk a lot, especially if you feel unbalanced or experience discomfort after wearing them. Be sure to stretch your heel cords regularly.
- Don’t: Walk more than a few blocks in high heels. Wear flats and switch shoes later. Heels negatively affect your gait by making you arch your back, which causes your belly to pooch out.
When you carry a purse
- Do: Split a heavy load between two bags, and carry one on each shoulder.
- Don’t: Use the same shoulder every day. Your body elevates the shoulder carrying the bag, which throws your spine off-to the side
At the computer
- Do: Keep your feet flat on the floor and your eyes are level with your computer monitor. If you have a tall chair and desk, use a footrest to keep your feet resting flat.
- Do: Make sure your chair supports the curve in your lower back and your shoulder blades, says Thielman.
- Do: Take regular breaks to walk around the office for 60 seconds—standing improves posture. Do this 5 times over the workday.
- Don’t: Keep your legs extended or crossed for long periods. To minimize stress on your joints, Thielman recommends you keep ankles, knees, and hips at 90-degree angles.
- Do: Place a pillow under your knees if you sleep on your back. By causing knees to bend slightly, this keeps your spine naturally curved, according to Mayo Clinic Women’s Healthsource.
- Don’t: Snooze on your stomach— side or back is better. If you have shoulder pain resting on your side may be uncomfortable, try the other side or place a pillow behind your back to be ½ on your back and ½ on your side. For added back comfort place a pillow between your knees for more spinal support. This will relieve pressure on lumbar joints and adjust alignment.