Four Ways to Improve Your Posture—Even If You Thought the Damage Was Already Done
There are many factors that contribute to poor posture—lifestyle, genetics, and even your clothing can all play a part—but there is good news: These factors don't cause permanent misalignment. What's more, there are a few quick and easy fixes out there that can get almost anyone standing up straight again. After all, it's never too late to change, says Dr. Sherry McAllister, DC, and Executive Vice President of Foundation for Chiropractic Progress. Fixing your posture is something you can do at any age, but it's better to start sooner rather than later. "The longer we wait to work on our posture, the more damage can be done to the joints, ligaments, and muscles," she explains. "The best way to stop pain is to prevent it." Taking the right steps to correct the mistakes you're already making will go a long way in helping to improve and repair your posture. To help you do so, we tapped three specialists and asked them to share their best remedies to the most common posture errors.
Switch up your hairstyle and bra.
Unsurprisingly, your footwear has a major impact on your posture, but according to Dr. Sebastian Kverneland, DC, everything from your hairstyle to your bra choice informs how you position yourself. "Having a ponytail or hat while driving will make your head tilt forward," he says, which ultimately stresses your cervical spine and neck. Additionally, wearing the wrong bra can weaken your serratus anterior, causing your shoulders to roll forward, your shoulder blades to "wing," and your back to slouch.
Sit at the edge of your chair.
If you have a job that has you seated most of the day, you may find yourself slouching. Dr. Alexandra Chaux of Core Fit Yoga helps her adult patients correct this common issue by advising them to sit at the edge of their chair. "This posture tilts the pelvic anteriorly," she explains. "The abdominal muscles and back muscles will work together to maintain an upright posture effortlessly and more naturally."
Distribute your weight evenly.
Alternatively, if your job has you on your feet most of the day, Dr. Chaux has a fix for that, too. "Make sure to put one foot on a step or stool, and switch legs as needed," she explains, adding that switching between feet distributes your weight from one hip to the other. Alternating feet is important, since standing with both feet flat on the floor can create tension in your lower back and weaken abdominal muscles.
Check in with your body daily.
Dr. Chaux recommends the following exercise to her patients. Doing this daily can help improve both posture and spinal alignment: Face a door frame and bring one foot forward (about three feet apart from the back leg). Place your forearms against the frame and begin bending the front knee (while keeping both feet flat on the floor)—at the same time tighten or contract the glute muscle of the back leg while also engaging your abdominals. Slowly slide hands up like you want to reach the top of the door frame while taking five slow, deep breaths (or hold this posture for 30 seconds). Change legs and begin the process again.