With many people spending the majority of their time sitting at a desk, it’s no surprise that reports of back pain and tension headaches are at an all-time high. While it’s unlikely that our sedentary lifestyles will go back to our hunter-gatherer roots, there are various things we can do to mitigate the damage caused by poor posture.
Here are some practical tips to help you improve and maintain a healthy posture.
Start at the Bottom
Every muscle, tissue, and fiber in the body is connected— and the feet bear the weight of it all. If you have a job that requires standing or walking on hard surfaces, the first thing you can do to improve your posture is to invest in good footwear.
Ensure your sneakers have ample cushioning and arch support to help you maintain balance and good form throughout the day. Even the seemingly minuscule injuries and imbalances at the root cause overcompensations and poor postural adjustments. Preventing joint issues and other conditions like plantar fasciitis is a must when striving to improve your posture.
Invest in Ergonomics
Don’t make the mistake of choosing cheap mattresses or chairs to support your body; you’ll end up paying for it later.
Invest in ergonomically designed furniture to support your joints and posture both during your workday and as you sleep at night. Choose a supportive chair for your desk, and elevate your screen to minimize the need to tilt your head down.
For better overall postural support, choose a mattress that works with your body type and sleeping position. In other words, a stomach sleeper needs a different type of mattress than a side sleeper, as delineated by our friends at Shape. Choosing the right pillows for your sleep style will also help maintain spinal alignment and promote a healthy posture during your waking hours.
As you go through your day, thoughts about your posture could get put on the backburner. The best way to improve your posture over time is to set reminders to adjust, sit up straight, or take a moment to stretch.
Set a simple reminder using your fitness tracker, phone alarms, or home assistant device to sit up straight and adjust your posture. Over time, this practice will help you build awareness of your body and improve your mind-body connection.
Use a Back Brace
Back braces and posture improvement implements are somewhat controversial. The benefit of using a posture correcting brace is that it will help you sit up straight and make proper posture a habit. However, there are some downsides as well.
While having a healthy posture is important, it’s also important to be relaxed and natural. Overcorrecting your posture can cause more harm than good. Using these devices doesn’t train your muscles to do the work, which doesn’t help develop better body awareness. Additionally, if you self-prescribe a bracing device without input from a chiropractor, physician, or physiotherapist, you could agitate underlying conditions.
If using a posture correcting device sounds like the solution for you, talk to a professional first.
Practice Functional Movement
Finally, another integral part of maintaining a healthy posture is training your muscles through resistance and mobility exercises. Resistance training—whether through bodyweight exercises and calisthenics or weightlifting— will help strengthen your muscles to support your skeletal structure as you age.
Meanwhile, mobility training will help you maintain mobility and flexibility throughout your entire range of motion. This training will help offset the shortening of tendons and muscles that lead to poor posture through repetitive movements and a sedentary existence.
By using these practical tips and building your mind-body connection, you’ll be able to make notable improvements and maintain a healthy posture throughout your life.