7 More Quick Tips and Tricks for Better Posture
One of the quickest and easiest ways to feel better both mentally and physically is to stand up straight. We've already covered some smart stretches you can do to get your posture more upright and your spine better aligned. But there's more work to do! (See also: 5 Easy Ways to take Better Care of Your Back)
Check out these easy exercises and other methods that will help ease back pain and have you looking and feeling more confident in no time.
1. Wall Test
To check your current posture, all you need is some clear wall space. Stand with the back of your head against a wall and your feet around 6 inches away from the baseboard. From there, position your buttocks against the wall and check to see where your lower back and neck fall in alignment. You should only find a couple inches of space in these nooks.
2. Sit to Stand
While sitting up straight in a chair, raise your body with your legs into a standing position while keeping your neck and spine erect. Repeat 5 to 10 times with little if any rest between, keeping good posture throughout. This exercise is good for your lower half, like a squat, but also trains your body to keep proper posture throughout the day's tasks, which often involve the transition from sitting to standing.
3. Core Strengthener
A strong core is one of the keys to better posture, but most of us forget it when our backs start to ache. Doing exercises like planks can engage those muscles in the abs and around the spine that help hold up your torso. Just make sure you use proper form to get the most benefit, drawing your belly button in toward your spine while squeezing your glutes for a comprehensive workout. Start with 30 seconds and work up to a minute or two.
4. Leg Extensions
Another great way to work your core is by doing crunches. Take them to a new level by adding leg extensions to your everyday routine. Sit on the ground with your arms behind you, palms on the floor. Then raise both legs up high and slowly lower — focusing on core muscles — and raise again just before touching the ground. Work up to doing 15-20 at a time.
5. Load Off
Carrying heavy backpacks and other burdensome items can wreck havoc on your back and alter your posture. Try using a roll suitcase for especially heavy loads. If you must carry your pack, be sure to wear both straps, use additional waist or shoulder straps, and reduce your load as much as possible. If you regularly carry a briefcase or shoulder bag, consider switching to a backpack or roller to more evenly distribute your load.
6. Chair Master
You can work on your posture during the workday from your desk chair. It's all about opening up your chest and doing the exercises regularly. Sit up and make a W shape with your arms, almost like you're going to use the chest fly machine at the gym. Move your arms backward and forward again, keeping a neutral spine. Do 10 repetitions and work up to more as you feel comfortable. (See also: 10 No-Sweat Workouts Perfect for the Workplace)
7. Practice Pose
And perhaps the simplest way to work on your posture is to learn the correct form to being with and to practice it each day. Your head, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should all be in alignment. Your spine should be slightly curved at the lower back. If your feel your head and shoulders start to lurch forward during the day, return to the basic stance and bring your awareness back to standing up straight.
How do you work on your posture during the day? Please share in comments!