9 Tips for Better Posture
Don't Be a Slouch
It adds to the stress on your spine. That puts a strain on the bones, muscles, and joints you need to hold your backbone in place. But lousy posture isn't just bad for your back. A constant slump smashes your inside organs together, and makes it harder for your lungs and intestines to work. Over time, that’ll make it hard to digest food or get enough air when you breathe.
A great way to prevent posture problems? Stand up tall. You'll feel better and look better -- slimmer, even. Pretend you’re standing against a wall to measure your height. Hold your head straight and tuck in your chin. Your ears should be over the middle of your shoulders. Stand with your shoulders back, knees straight, and belly tucked in. Don't let your booty or hips stick out. Straighten up so you feel like your head stretches toward the sky.
Don't Slump at Your Desk
It's comfy to slouch -- maybe even lean back and swivel a bit. But it’s a posture no-no. Try this instead: Sit all the way back in your chair. Place a small, rolled-up towel or lumbar cushion behind your mid-back to protect your spine's natural curve. Bend your knees at a right angle and keep them the same height, or a bit higher, than your hips. Place your feet flat on the floor.
Beware of 'Text Neck'
On your smartphone all day long? Take a minute to stretch your neck. When you tilt your head down to check messages it really strains your spine. Over the course of a day -- or year -- that can add up. For a better view, lift the phone up and move your eyes, not your head.
Don't Be a Low-Rider
Sure, it's cool and comfy to recline during a long drive. But it isn’t great for your posture. Instead, pull your seat close to the steering wheel. Try not to lock your legs. Bend your knees slightly. They should be at hip level or a tad above. Don't forget to put a pillow or rolled-up towel behind you for support.
Save Heels for a Big Night Out
They might be a fashion yes, but they’re likely a posture no. Pumps and stilettos thrust the base of your spine forward, which over-arches your back. That can change the way your backbone lines up and put pressure on nerves, which causes back pain. Sky-high shoes also put more weight on your knees. Choose a lower, chunky heel for daily wear.
Hit the Hay the Right Way
Naptime is no excuse to slack. Skip the soft, saggy mattress. Choose a firm one that helps hold your spine's natural shape. Side sleeper? Bend your knees slightly but don't hug them. Place a pillow under your head so it's level with your spine. Back sleepers should ditch the thick pillow and opt for a small one under the neck.
Exercise and Tone Your Abs
Too many pounds around your belly puts added stress on your back. You need strong muscles to support your spine. A well-designed workout plan will keep your body and spine in tip-top shape. And that's important. Try non-impact exercises like tai chi.
Check for Problems
You probably know if you slouch or not. If you aren’t sure, here's a quick way to tell. Place the back of your head against a wall. Move your feet 6 inches out from the baseboard. Your tush should touch the wall. Your lower back and your neck should be about 2 inches from it. If not, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your posture.