Did you know that you can stand taller, look thinner and feel great just by improving your posture? This might sounds like a gimmick, but it’s actually true. Simply standing up straight and maintaining good posture can do wonders for your health and appearance.
By keeping your shoulders back and your spine erect, you open up your chest and core, allowing more blood to reach your vital organs and more oxygen to fill your lungs. Increased blood and oxygen flow does wonders for circulation, digestion, mental clarity and much more. Posture can also influence hormone production, leading to an increase in testosterone (a confidence booster) and a decrease in cortisol (a hormone that affects weight gain).
Maintaining good posture is easier said than done, especially if you are not used to it. In the beginning, changing your posture might result in some discomfort in your back and shoulders. You might experience some tightness or soreness, but should not be feeling sharp pain. Remember to always listen to your body and consult your doctor if necessary.
What Is Good Posture and How Do I Get It?
Whether you are sitting or standing, make sure to pull your shoulders down and back, lift your head and chin up, open up your chest and keep your back straight. The goal is to maintain an upright position with a neutral pelvis and a straight, stacked spine.
How to get into good posture:
Imagine your head is being pulled straight up by a string. Lift your chest slightly and draw in your abdominals. Keep your shoulders down and back, and your chin tucked in. You’re aiming for a strong, confident position! When sitting, scoot your hips to the back of your chair and avoid reclining against the seat-back.
If you’re having trouble getting into good posture or keeping a straight spine throughout the day, there are tools to help you achieve your goals. One of our favorites is the Lumo Lift, a small wearable sensor that buzzes when you slouch. Bonus – it also tracks your step count and calories burned! Lift is a discreet and stylish posture coach that magnetically attaches to your shirt and pairs with a smartphone app that tracks your data. Click here to learn more.
Bad Posture Habits You Need To Break ASAP
Now that you’re on your way to mastering great posture, be careful not to commit any of these deadly posture sins along the way.
1. Sitting With Your Legs Crossed
We have to admit that this is the position of choice for many of us when we sit, especially women.
But here’s why it’s deadly: when you cross your legs, your pelvis rolls forward and “unstacks” your spine. This puts pressure on your lower back and forces you to slightly lean to one side (the side that the leg is crossed over) causing an imbalanced pelvis.
Try it out if you don’t believe us — it’s actually difficult and uncomfortable to keep your spine stacked while crossing your legs.
2. Hyperextending Your Back
A hunched, rounded back is damaging— but overarching your spine in effort to have good posture is equally harmful to your body.
The goal is to have a neutral, stacked spine to maintain the natural curvature of your back that most effectively protects your muscles and joints from straining.
3. Hunching Forward
Avoid hunching over with your head tilted down and your back rounded— this is the deadliest of postures for your spine. This position, also called “text-neck”, is referred to by the posture conscious community as the new smoking and is wreaking havoc on your spine (it also leads to hunchbacks!).
4. Carrying Heavy Bags
We know this is a tough one to avoid, especially if you have lots of equipment you need for work. But those one-shoulder strap computer bags, handbags, briefcases and gym bags are deadly to your posture when it’s loaded up with extra weight. A bag should weigh no more than 10% of your body weight.
Here’s why: shoulder strap bags, by design, put pressure on one side of your trapezius, an important muscle in your shoulders that’s related to a number of troubles like stiff necks, headaches, upper back pain, etc. Putting this kind of pressure (especially when carrying lots of things) is bad enough, but the extent of damage doesn’t end here.
The weight of your bag naturally pulls your body down sideways, causing you to lean to one side. To compensate, you may try leaning to the other side to balance out your upper body. This puts all kinds of strain on your back and may lead to pain and injury.
If possible, always try to carry your things in a backpack where the weight is equally distributed to both sides to your body. If not, split your belongings into two bags, and at least try to balance out the weight so that you’re not walking around lopsided.
5. Not Moving
So maybe your back hurts already (probably becauseof poor posture!) or you’re just really busy and don’t have time to move around. Being sedentary is actually just as harmful to your body as having poor posture.
Getting up and moving around even for a short while, like to the water cooler, or bathroom breaks, shakes out your muscles and releases built up tension in your body. One of the most common myths about back pain is that when your back hurts, you shouldn’t move it.
Staying active keeps your fluids moving around and lessens the amount of lactic acid build up in your muscles and spine, helping you keep the pain away.
Read more: Easy Ways to Meet Your Step Goal at the Office.
Once you know what posture to aim for, the challenge becomes maintaining that over an extended period of time without slipping back into old habits. Try setting an alarm every 30 minutes to an hour to help you practice posture mindfulness throughout the day, or get yourself a Lumo Lift to do the reminding for you. At Lumo, we believe your best posture is your next posture and the more you work at it, the easier it will be.
Bonus: For more tips on keeping your back healthy and happy, check out this quick and easy stretching guide by Daniel Lord of Crossover Health.
Get extra help for your posture with Lumo Lift
Lumo Lift is a small lightweight wearable that helps you train and maintain great posture – while also being an activity tracker. Compatible with iOS/iPhone, Windows desktop and select Android devices. Free shipping, 30-day money-back guarantee and 1 year limited warranty.