When you were growing up, your parents may have reminded you to stand up straight. Sit nice and tall. And that might have been the last time you thought much about your posture. But good posture is important throughout life.
It can help you move more easily and look confident. It can also help prevent back and muscle pain.
You may experience back or muscle pain at some point in your life. Slumped or hunched shoulders can make these feelings worse. Poor posture places stress on the body and can even lead to pulled muscles.
You may not achieve good posture by workouts alone. It also takes focus on habits, stretches, and exercises aimed at building it. You might feel stiff at first, especially if you’re not used to sitting and standing up straight. Over time, it may become easier. The key is to practice good posture as often as you can. Make improvements at any age.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that you keep these tips in mind when standing:1
This is a way to test your standing posture. Stand with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall. Heels should be two to four inches away from the wall. Slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back. Palms should be flat against the wall.
You should feel about one hand's thickness of space between your back and the wall. If there's too much space, tighten your belly muscles to flatten the curve. If there's too little, arch your back a little. Keep this posture as you walk away from the wall. Try to maintain it as you go about your day.2
The Cleveland Clinic offers these tips for good posture when you're sitting. Since many of us may sit for hours each day, these can make a big difference.
Stretches and exercises may also help. Talk with your doctor before you start any heavy workouts. It may be a good idea to start off slow and increase gradually. You might even try standing for 20 seconds, stretching, or “shaking things out.”
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