Do you often feel a crick in your neck or ache in your lower back while seated? Yeah, you’re not alone. If you’ve been working from your couch, bed, or kitchen table for a while, life can be a pain in the back. Literally! While it’s tempting to slouch on the couch or sit propped up in bed with a laptop, doing this for way too long can wreak havoc on your posture and that comes with back pain, and neck and shoulder aches too. Sure, adding exercise to your routine can go a long way towards preventing injury and making you feel great. But does it ensure that your body will never hurt again?
Well, that’s the greatest lie ever told. So, how to kick your slouching habit and offload the nagging pain in your neck, back, or shoulder? The answer is simple— you need to fix your posture. You spend most of your time in one of three positions: standing, sitting, and lying down. And if you don’t get these postures right, it can result in muscle tension back pain, joint pain, and even reduced circulation. So, to help you fix your posture without extra time in the gym, we’ve put together a few simple tips.
How to Improve Posture While Standing
Standing is something we do every day. But most of us have never really given a thought to “the art of standing properly” In fact, many are still not aware of the fact that their standing posture and habit can contribute to their back and neck problems.
Common Standing Posture Mistakes
- Hunching your shoulders
- Leaning on one foot
- Keeping upper back slouched
- Your head is positioned forward/in front of your spine
Best Posture for Standing
- Stand up straight and tall
- Avoid slouching forward and maintain a straight spine
- Don’t lock your knees but keep them slightly bent
- Make sure you’re not leaning to one side or another
- Let your hands hang naturally at your sides
- Place the majority of your weight on your heels.
- Your feet should point straight to the front or slightly outward
- Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side
Do three quick, small jumps. Jumping will help you adjust your feet and regain your balance, allowing your body to snap back into its preferred and optimal posture.
How to Improve Posture When Sitting
“Sit up straight”— this is something you must have heard a lot as a kid. But, still, many of us don’t tag along with this. Though it’s comfy to slouch or maybe even lean back and swivel a bit, a constant slump isn’t just bad for your back but it can also make it harder for your lungs and intestines to work.
Common Sitting Posture Mistakes
- Slouching or leaning forward in your chair
- Crossing one leg over the other
- Sitting on the edge of the chair
- Hunching forward towards your computer
- Using your Couch for Work
- Arms not supported
Correct Sitting Posture
- Straighten your back and relax your shoulders
- Place your feet flat on the ground or a footrest.
- Make sure your legs aren’t crossed.
- Keep your head and neck balanced and aligned with your torso
- Make sure your shoulders are not hunched or rounded
- Maintain three-finger spacing between the back of the knee joint and the chair’s front edge.
- Ensure that face and eyes are oriented straight ahead
- Keep your computer screen at eye level to avoid bending your neck forward or backward.
Sit all the way back in your chair. Keep a small, rolled-up towel or cushion behind your mid-back to support your spine’s natural curve. Bend your knees at a straight angle and hold them at a height slightly lower than your waist. Make sure your feet are flat on the ground.
How to Improve Posture When Lying down
Good posture doesn’t apply just to sitting and standing. The muscles and ligaments of your back relax and recover while you sleep. So, avoid the soft, saggy mattress and go for a firm one that will help your spine hold its natural shape. Instead of a thick pillow, use a little one beneath your neck. If you sleep on your side, bend your knees slightly but do not hug them while sleeping. Also, place a pillow underneath your head so that it is parallel to your spine.
Common Sleeping Posture Mistakes
- Sleeping on your stomach
- Having too many pillows
- Lying on your side with one shoulder rotated relative to the opposite side.
- Sleeping on your side with your body curled up
- Lying on your side with your neck under- or over-supported
Best Posture for Sleeping
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can create stress on the back
- Try to sleep on your side or back as it is often helpful for back pain
- Keep your knees slightly bent
- Place a pillow under your head, between your arms, and between your knees to support neutral alignment
Sleep on your side with a pillow wedged between your legs. Try this for a week and your body will be trained to sleep in the proper posture, and as your sleep quality improves, the new position will become second nature.
The bottom line
Remember, staying in one posture for an extended period of time, whether sitting, standing, or lying down, can lead to muscle strain, soreness, and fatigue. And, if you’re in a slouched position, the effects may be significantly more severe. So, make sure to stand up and move a little and stretch for at least a few minutes every hour to prevent muscle pain and fatigue. Your body adjusts to the postures in which it spends the most time. So, regularly breaking these cycles with movement and stretching can help ensure you don’t structurally or functionally adapt to a position that is going to limit your performance or set you up for injury. A stooped posture or muscle discomfort may appear to be set in stone by the time we reach a certain age and you may think you’ve missed the boat to getting better posture. However, there’s a good chance that you’ll be able to stand taller. It’s not as tough as you may think. It’s often just a matter of changing your habits and strengthening your muscles. All you need is consistency, awareness, and dedication.