We’re not trying to sound like your mother, but we are here to tell you to stand up straight. It’s not for the sake of appearances in front of those rarely seen relatives — it’s so you can decrease your chance of developing arthritis, prevent back pain and help your spine keep its shape, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Sometimes slouching can be caused by kyphosis, when the back is naturally over-bent. If you think you may have especially poor posture thanks to something you can’t help, talk to a physical therapist or chiropractor who can suggest stretches and exercises that can help improve kyphosis and lordosis, an abnormally bent lower back.
Most of us, though, develop poor posture from bending over computers or under heavy backpacks. Hunched-over habits die hard, but with a little bit of focus and effort, you may feel less back and neck pain at the end of a long day, or at least smile at the impressive figure you strike walking past windows.
Standing: To test out your standing posture and give yourself a little stretch, stand against a wall. The back of your feet, the bottom curve of your spine, your shoulders and the bottom of your head should all make contact with the wall. Most of your weight should be carried in the balls of your feet.
Sitting: This one is especially important for all of us tied to our desks all day. When sitting, your feet should touch the ground, with your knees at a 90-degree angle at level with or below your hips. Your back and shoulders should be straight, and your butt should touch the back of your chair. Then relax your arms and work away.
Sleeping: Posture counts when you’re snoozing, too. Try to maintain the natural curve of your back while you sleep, whether it’s by putting a pillow under your lower back and sleeping on your back, or by sleeping on your side with your legs straight.