Set yourself straight: How to improve body posture
12/17/2019 // Grace Olson // Views

When you're sitting down comfortably against a sofa or an armchair, it's difficult to keep a straight, "proper" posture. This sentiment applies to different positions as well, such as standing, facing the computer and even lying down. However, posture contributes to your health a lot more than you think. Taking measures to improve it may offer better sleep and moods.

What does bad posture look like?

Posture refers to the positioning of the body. While bad posture may seem harmless at first, it may contribute to a series of uncomfortable conditions and inevitably, a harder time exercising. When this happens, it increases your risk of injury.

Here are some common posture mistakes you might be practicing:

  1. Slouching while sitting down
  2. Leaning on one leg after standing for a while
  3. Sticking your bottom out while standing (also called the "Donald Duck" posture)
  4. Standing with a flat back
  5. Hunching while using a phone or keyboard
  6. Poking the chin out while using the computer
  7. Cradling the phone in one ear

These examples of bad posture may seem normal and even natural because you see it every day. However, they result in various uncomfortable effects, such as:

  • Back and neck pain
  • Constipation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn

These effects are not exclusive to bad posture. However, mistakes in posture may negatively affect other aspects of health, such as sleep, heart health and mental well-being. (Related: Improving your posture could help reduce muscle pain, joint pain and headaches.)


Tips for improving body posture

Bad postures stem from varying causes. Some people just got used to bad posture over time. For others, the problem may come from poor muscle tone, strength and flexibility. Thus, while bad posture is not necessarily harmful, it may be a sign that you need to strive for better health.

Here are some things you can do to improve your posture:

1. Exercise

There are a lot of exercises that can help improve posture. For beginners, it is best to target the back, buttocks and abdomen. Some of the exercises that can help improve posture include:

  • Bridges 

    1. Lie flat on your back with the knees bent upward. Place your heels as close as possible to the buttocks.
    2. Raise your buttocks and lower back. Imagine there is a straight line running from your knees to your head. Hold this position.
    3. After a few seconds, gently lower your hips to the ground. Repeat this for eight to 10 times.

  • Back extensions

    1. Lie on your stomach with your arms bent like a sphynx. Keep your legs straight and steady.
    2. Gently arch your back to raise your torso while keeping your neck and head straight. Use your arms for support.
    3. After a few seconds, go back to the original position. Repeat this for eight to 10 times.

  • Planks

    1. Begin by lying on your stomach, as if you're about to do a push-up.
    2. Raise yourself and shift your position so that only your toes and your forearms support your weight. Some variations of planks have their arms extended with their weight resting on the hands.
    3. Keep the buttocks taut and tighten the abdomen. Avoid dipping the lower back. Focus on breathing.
    4. Stay in this position for a few breaths, before gently lowering yourself to the ground.

Remember to gradually let yourself get used to the position first. Repeat these exercises every day until you can do them for longer periods.

2. Manage your weight

Putting on too much weight places stress on the whole body. Unless the weight comes from muscle gain (like bodybuilders and ballerinas), this extra stress may pull the body out of alignment.

3. Securing support

Using small items may help ensure that your buttocks, back and thighs have enough support to maintain proper posture. Put a small pillow against your lower back while sitting down. You can also wear shoes with thick soles to help you stand longer when necessary.

4. Be mindful of devices

Many people have office jobs, which means that they sit in front of a computer for hours in a day. Without noticing it, people may be hunched over their keyboards or sticking their chins out. To avoid these, check your posture every now and then and adjust accordingly.

Learn more about the importance of posture and other ways to improve it at

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