Good posture is a great habit. Here’s how to achieve it.

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.

Good standing posture

The Mayo Clinic recommends that you keep these tips in mind when standing:1

  • Hold your chest high.
  • Keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Pull in your tummy and buttocks.
  • Keep your feet parallel.
  • Balance your weight evenly on both feet.
  • Also, try not to tilt your head. Knees should be relaxed, not locked.

The wall test

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

Good sitting posture3

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.

  • Sit up with your back straight and shoulders back. Your buttocks should touch the back of your chair.
  • All three curves of your back should be there when you sit. A small, rolled-up towel or lower back support can help you keep those curves.
  • Make sure your body weight is over both hips equally.
  • Bend your knees at a right angle. Keep knees even width or a little higher than your hips. Do not cross your legs.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor.
  • Try not to sit in the same position for more than 30 minutes.
  • Adjust your chair and desk height so you can sit up close to your work. Tilt your work materials toward you. Rest elbows and arms on your chair or desk. Keep your shoulders relaxed.
  • If your chair rolls or pivots, don't twist at the waist while sitting. Turn your whole body.
  • When you stand, move to the front of the seat. To stand up, straighten your legs. Then stretch your back by doing 10 standing backbends.

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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