Unless you want your mother to tell you that you look like Gollum from Lord Of The Rings whenever you visit or eat dinner with her, you should check out these easy ways to get better posture. (Yes, my mother has made LOTR references regarding my posture.) It will help you avoid being compared to an evil cave-dwelling former Hobbit who lives off of raw fish, but it will also help keep you free from back pain if you have a desk job and free from joint pain as you age.
You can get great posture just by moving your body around on a regular basis, and, apparently, by staying out of caves and away from powerful rings.
1. Open Your Chest & Stretch Your Back Regularly
If you sit at a desk all day long, you should be sure to get up and stretch, walk, or stand at least once every half hour, according to Health. When you’re stretching, reach your arms back behind you and over your head, and try to push your shoulder together and then down your back. You can also slowly lean over the back of your chair as you’re sitting down, if you want to do this stretch more frequently. Stretching the muscles in your chest and back — the ones that often get stiff when you’re slouching or hunched over — keeps them limber and helps keep your range of motion more free.
2. Get On Your Hands & Knees & Do A Little Dance
Move your spine in all different directions in this position. Tuck your chin to your chest and drop your tailbone to make a rainbow shape with your spine and then rotate your hips and neck slowly until you’re spine is pointing the opposite direction — like a “U” with your tailbone and the top of your head pointing up. Move your hips and shoulder from side to side and just stretch or move freely in any way that feels good. This helps the ligaments along the spine restore and “maintain proper position for healthy alignment,” according to MindBodyGreen.
3. Test Your Balance
Stand with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Then, move the weight of your upper body without moving your feet so that all of your muscles help you balance. Lean really far forward and really far backward. Then, if you’re a pro, stand on one leg while moving your upper body around. According to MindBodyGreen, your body will naturally use smaller supporting muscles that often aren’t used when you’re compensating with poor posture.
4. Try To Sit Straight At Work
I know, I know, this is like telling a child not to touch the cookies. But you can do it. Try to sit up straight in your chair at work, with your shoulders back and your shoulder blades pushed down your back (don’t crunch them up near your ears). If you can only hold the position for a few minutes — totally fine. But you’re strengthening your good-posture muscles all the same. The more you work on sitting straight, the longer you’ll be able to hold the position naturally, and the better your posture will be all the time.
5. Strengthen Your Core
This requires the most amount of work on your part, but just exercising your core in some way once a week will do your posture wonders. Also, if you have lower back pain, it will help with that too. You can strengthen your core with a number of easy Pilates or Yoga moves, or, for a quick and simple position, you can balance on your butt while holding your hands and feet off of the ground. You can keep your legs bent, or straighten them for more of a stretch and a challenge, and you can hold behind your thighs for a little more support. There are a million easy ways to strengthen your core, and a strong core means an all-around strong center of movement.
Images: Mr.TinDC/Flickr; Howcast/YouTube; Star5112/Flickr; Sonoma Body Balance/YouTube; sadienardini/YouTube