Some people believe good posture is something you’re either born with or you’re not. However, though genetics do play a role, your everyday habits tend to play an even more significant one. In Part 1 of this guide, we developed an overview of mindsets and practices that will start you down the road to improving your posture. In this post, we will continue on with that thread, but focus in on more specific things you can do to improve your posture in the short term as well. However, be aware that there is no easy spine cure-all out there, as well as the fact that not all of these techniques will be suitable for every reader.
To get the most optimized approaches for your unique situation, consult with the Center for Spine Care in Dallas. We are dedicated to providing each and every patient a custom, comprehensive program for addressing problems like back pain through structural transformation and other advanced methods. It can take time and effort to transform your posture, yet the pain relief and increased vivacity you will experience by addressing your structural problems is almost certainly going to be worth it. Reach out to us and request your appointment today!
Techniques for Better Posture
Our spine doctors can assist you by identifying your problem areas and instructing you in the proper exercises to do for strengthening your core postural muscles. Consulting with a professional will help you avoid injury as well, so be sure to give us a call, if you haven’t already.
That being said, let’s break down some of the easiest things you can do to start improving your posture. We start by looking at three common categories: 1) sitting, 2) standing, 3) lying. Let’s get started!
#1: How To Sit Properly
- Keep your back straight and your shoulders back. Try to keep your buttocks touching the bottom-back of your chair
- Keep your back curved; avoid slouching
- Distribute your body weight evenly between both hips
- Keep your feet flat on the floor
- Don’t sit in the same position for longer than a half-hour
- At your desk, position your chair height so you don’t have to slouch.
- In a computer chair, rest your arms and elbows on the arms of your chair without tension
- Keep facing forward in a swivel chair; avoid twisting your waist while sitting
There are some tools that make a big difference for supporting your back, like lumbar support and neck support devices. A lumbar support device in particular is an affordable investment that anyone who sits for long periods of time will likely see significant benefit from.
#2: How to Stand Properly
When you are standing, there are a few things you want to keep in mind to improve your posture:
- Stand up straight and keep your shoulders back
- Keep your weight focused in the balls of your feet
- Avoid locking your knees by keeping them slightly bent
- Position your feet about shoulder’s width apart
- Dangle your arms naturally down the sides of your body
- Keep your head level, neither in front of or behind your shoulders
- If you have to stand for long periods of time, rock your feet from heels to toes a bit
The overall theme of proper posture is to keep your body relaxed, in a neutral position, and balance your weight as evenly as possible.
#3: How to Lay Properly
When you are in bed, there are a few positions that are generally going to lead to you being less sore in the morning than others. If you have lower back pain, it can seriously disturb your sleep. Bad sleep posture can make that pain even worse, creating a downward spiral of discomfort and pain. To address that, there are a few things you can do. If you are a side-sleeper, knee support can help distribute your weight more evenly and help maintain the natural curve of your spine. This goes for back sleepers as well. Knee support is an easy way to start addressing your back pain problems that are being exacerbated by suboptimal sleep positioning.
For people with a herniated disc, the fetal position may bring the most relief from the pain during the night. With your knees tucked into your chest, your spine bends less and your joints are opened up a bit.
Lastly, though it is generally considered the worst sleep position for posture, sleeping on your stomach can help people with a herniated disc or degenerative disc disease. However, it is advised to place a small pillow under your abdomen and hips to raise yourself up a bit and give some extra support. It’s also a good idea to use a thin pillow for your head, or no pillow at all, to avoid upper back or neck pain.
Here are some general techniques for improved posture while lying down:
- Choose a mattress that suits your needs — a firm mattress is generally recommended for improved posture, but a softer mattress can help reduce back pain. Choose something that is comfortable for you.
- Find the right pillow — choose a pillow that is designed for your sleep position and that gives proper support.
- Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
- If you have back pain, try sleeping on your side with a pillow between your legs.
- When sleeping on your back, put a pillow under your knees.
Start Seeing Posture Improvements in Less Than 30 Days
Though it takes time for your posture to improve, you can start to see improvements quite quickly if you are diligent. What will make the biggest short-term differences are:
#1: Do Regular Posture Checks
Regularly stand up against a wall and move your focus from your toes to your knees, hips, shoulders, etc. Try and keep a 2-inch gap between the wall and your neck and back. If the gap is larger, it indicates a weak posture and overly-curving spine.
#2: Do Child’s Pose
Just five minutes each morning and night of being in child’s pose — where you’re on your hands and knees with shoulder-width apart and your arms reaching forward — can quickly start undoing years of slouching and bad posture.
#3: Standing Forward Fold
Another yoga pose that can help a lot is a standing forward fold. Do this one for four minutes each morning and evening to start seeing improvements in your posture.
There are other yoga poses that can help improve your posture and reduce back pain, but one of our favorites is cat-cow. Cat-cow is where you start on all fours, breathe in and tuck your tailbone under your ab muscles and push your spine up to the ceiling like a Halloween cat. After that, you cycle down the cow phase, where you breathe out and swoop your pelvis and belly towards the floor and lift your chin towards the ceiling. Cycle through this routine for a few minutes twice a day.
Transform Your Routine for Better Posture
You can start working on improving your posture today, it only takes a commitment to doing exercises and staying conscious of how you are positioned to accomplish your goal. No wavering! Stay focused! However, that being said, sometimes your posture problems go deeper than simple exercises can address. If that is the case, or if you simply want to get more personally customized exercise suggestions, reach out to our spine care doctor’s office in Dallas and get the care you need. Center for Spine Care is committed to helping you improve your posture and reduce your back pain. We look forward to speaking with you soon!