Most of us grew up accustomed to hearing our mothers tell us to stand up straight, but we probably didn’t do much about it over the years. Although most of us know that good posture helps us look better, we likely don’t think about the number of other ways our posture affects our health.
Bad posture can lead to problems such as back, shoulder, and neck issues, while on the flip side, good posture can help improve your energy levels, your confidence and even your digestion.
Maintaining good posture doesn’t happen overnight, but if you take the proper steps, you can have good alignment and improve your life in ways you might not have imagined.
1. Stand Taller
The first step to good posture is to avoid slouching. Lift your whole head upward and lengthen your spine. Widen your shoulders, and support your body by standing with your feet firmly pressing into the ground.
Need some inspiration on this one? Check out powerhouse ballerina Misty Copeland’s Instagram feed:
2. Sit Better
According to this handy guide from Greatist, sitting matters just as much as standing does. If you sit at a desk all day, make sure you get an ergonomic chair. Keep your eyes aligned with the height of your computer so you aren’t looking down. Rotate your shoulders back and keep your arms at a 90-degree angle. Keep your legs uncrossed and align yourself vertically so that your shoulders are over your hips.
3. Change Your Sleep Position
Falling asleep on your side or your back helps keep your spine more neutral. Sleeping on your stomach puts the most strain on your spine.
Read: 9 Science-Based Fixes For Common Sleep Problems
4. Get A Better Bag
Carrying a heavy bag can wreak havoc on your posture, leading to neck and back pain. Lighten the load of what you carry, and try to wear something with two straps to distribute weight evenly. If you use a bag on one side, be sure to switch shoulders to even it out.
Check out this Healthy Back Bag, which is less clunky than a backpack and comes in a variety of materials. Prices start at $28.00, and this reversible option below is $55.00.
5. Stop Looking Down At Your Phone
Constantly staring down at your phone can affect your spine and neck. Looking down at your device is like having a 60-pound weight on your neck, according to Life Hacker. Instead of always looking down to text or browse through Instagram, hold your phone straight in front of you.
6. Pick The Right Shoes
Ditch those stilettos and put on a good pair of sneakers instead. Shoes that support proper walking lead to better posture and less injury, and if you have any foot or knee issues, get orthotic inserts to help reduce pressure on the joints.
Try: Converse Jack Purcell CP Canvas Low Top, Zappos, $55.00
7. Build Strength
Building muscle strength can help give your body the support that it needs for proper alignment. Exercises such as squats, shoulder rolls and side bends can help improve your posture.