Sitting at a desk from 9-5. Commuting to work (sooo 2019). Binging on Netflix and IG Stories. Many of our habits, obsessions and ways we make a living are actually terrible -- for our spines. What are we supposed to do, though? While the Netflix habit might not be an absolute must on the agenda, many of the spine-crippling activities we engage in are. But relaxxxxx. I’m not only here to tell you the truth, I’m here to solve the problem.
Ready to break that bad posture habit?
I'm sure you’re eagerly nodding your head, so chuck that laptop off your lap and get up from your I’m-lounging-no-I’m-working comfy corner of the couch.
Imma ‘bout to throw a handful of tips at you that will get you sitting straighter, standing taller, and exuding some inner confidence, without too much effort. Here we go.
1. Text neck
Think about the shape your neck has to make in order to look down at your phone. Whether you’re texting last night’s date (and frantically texting your best friend in between, so she can help you decide what to write), watching the latest cute cat video, or glued to your Instafeed, looking down at your phone for daily forces your spine into a rather exaggerated C-shape. You want your neck and spine to be as in-line as possible, and constant “text-neck” is doing nothing good for your posture.
Fix this by training yourself to bring the screen of your phone up to meet your eyes. If it helps, imagine you’re taking a selfie each time you open up your phone.
2. Those sneaky pillows
Did you know there’s a good chance you’re hurting your posture when you’re not even conscious? It’s true: your nightly routine can be a secret posture killer. While lazily lying down on your Casper mattress might sound like a dream, if you’re using multiple pillows to elevate your head, your spine is screaming at you to stop.
Multiple pillows that elevate your head to a large degree puts unnecessary strain on your neck and upper-back muscles. A high elevated pillow is counterintuitive to human nature - think about how babies and toddlers sleep: pillow-free! Use fewer pillows or find ones that aren’t so large and fluffy, and you’ll likely be standing a little straighter throughout your day.
3. Walk it off
There’s no way around it: sitting in front of a computer all day is just part of the job description, for so many of us. And sure, while standing desks have become popular options, they’re not always practical (or affordable, for that matter).
So get up, and get out. In other words - take regular walk breaks away from your desk. It doesn’t have to be a particularly long walk, but going for a brisk stroll around the block, or taking just a few laps around your apartment or office can do wonders for your spine. A nice little reset, if you will. Maybe to the closest bakery or coffee shop. Now, that’s an incentive.
4. Don't give me another reason to exercise
While I hate to be the bearer of bad news, improved posture is just another reason why you need to hit the gym more.
If the word "gym" has you swiping left (be honest) and you’re still scarred from the last intense HIIT or cycling class you tried, you’ll be pleased to know pilates and yoga are excellent for your posture. In particular, try to focus on routines that highlight core work. A strong core will help prevent the dreaded afternoon “slump”, literally. Keep at it, and you’ll feel taller, more sturdy, and you'll notice the difference in your shoulder blades.
5. Breathwork for the win
Speaking of yoga and pilates, if you are familiar with the two then you know how important breathwork is in your practice.
Having said that, I’m the last person to think breathing can solve anything and TBH I personally just find the word "breathwork" incredibly annoying (sorry, yogis, that’s me).
But then there's science: it’s much easier to breathe when you’re standing/sitting with a straight spine. If you’re hunching over, your diaphragm will likely be compressed, and you won’t be able to breathe as freely. Try it now. Hunch over and take a deep breathe, then sit up straight and breathe again. Focusing your breath and the ease in which you can breathe is a good indicator of poor posture.
Here’s an easy one: Stretch first thing in the morning. It’s great for your posture after eight hours of being relatively stagnant AND it’s energizing AND the perfect way to start off your day. Ok, maybe not as energizing as a double shot of espresso. Or as perfect as my Starbucks Cold Brew with Cinnamon Almondmilk Foam. But still, stretch.
7. How are you sitting?
Laptop-users - I’m talking to you, again. Unfold yourself from the couch right now. I could probably write a whole guide on how to sit “properly,” but here’s the basic rules:
- Make sure both feet are planted on the floor
- Keep your lower back pressed against the back of your chair
- Don’t lean to one side
- Pull your shoulders back
Still here? So check-in with yourself right now. Which rule are you breaking? All of them? Yep, thought so.
When it comes to improving your posture, it’s about employing some simple lifestyle changes. Better posture means less back pain, less neck pain, and what else? More confidence.