Posture Hacks: The Ultimate Guide to Good Posture & How to Fix Terrible Posture

Your posture doesn’t only affect how you look. It also has a profound effect on your health.

Long gone are the days when poor posture only affected the older generation. We are now seeing a different story as constant sitting and inactivity are causing poor posture amongst the younger generations.

It’s important to know how you can prevent posture problems and fix existing ones before they worsen or cause continued pain.

This guide is here to help you on your journey to developing better posture and avoiding pain caused by postural stress.

First, we’ll discuss how you can identify posture flaws and what is causing them. Then, you’ll learn how you can fix your posture based on the exact type of misalignment problem you have.

What is it to Have “Good Posture?” and Why Is It Important?

“Good posture” doesn’t necessarily mean having a totally straight spine.

Everyone’s spine has a natural slightly inward curve at the lumbar spine (lower back), and a slightly outward curve at the thoracic spine (upper back), which is at the shoulder blade level.

Good posture is a neutral position, in which your spine’s vertebrae (spinal bones) are stacked on top of each other and not putting strain on your muscles or causing muscular imbalances by keeping you upright.

When you have good posture, your back is fairly straight, and more importantly, it allows you to be comfortable standing or sitting upright for longer periods without straining your muscles.

People with good posture aren’t necessarily exerting effort to maintain good posture, most of the time it’s all about making sure the muscles that help maintain good posture are well taken care of. This means the required muscles for good posture are strong, and there are no overly tight muscles which could cause poor posture. It is these muscles imbalances that exist in the body that are the main cause of poor posture.

Given today’s modern lifestyle whereby we spend hours a day at computers and mobile devices, it’s harder than ever to maintain good, healthy posture because we are forever worsening these muscle imbalances.

Seeking to improve your posture is extremely important for avoiding pain.

It also helps preserve your energy levels by requiring less muscle tension and strain to move your skeletal system.

When you don’t have to compensate for misalignments, you utilise less muscle to accomplish more movement. This goes a long way in enhancing your athletic performance and overall day-to-day energy levels.

Good posture is better for your digestive system, and it even helps you oxygenate your body more effectively when you breathe [2, 3].

Above all, good posture is shown to have a number of benefits such as improving self-esteem and improving your mood, according to scientific research [1]. 

Who doesn’t want to look and feel better at the same time? The good thing is that poor posture caused by muscle imbalances can be fixed. We’ll explore more of this later!


What Can Happen When You Have Bad Posture?

By correcting your posture you aren’t just doing something that will make you feel better, but in the long-run, you will be taking a big step to preventing various issues that can affect you down the line.

In other words, the health effects of having bad posture could be more serious than you think.

Here are some of the well-known consequences of having bad posture:

Spine Disorders

When your spine takes on more weight than it should because of excessive curvature, it can affect the health of your spinal discs because of the abnormal amount of compression they’re put under.

This can lead to painful spine conditions like herniated discs, also known as bulging discs or slipped discs. It can also raise your risk for degenerative disc disease.

Back Pain

Posture problems are bound to result in back pain.

It takes your muscles more effort and requires your muscles to suffer imbalances because they have to hold an abnormal spinal position. Postural stress causes tautness and muscle strain, which leads to chronic pain over time.

If you’re a sufferer of chronic back pain, you may well want to take a deeper look into your posture habits.

Neck Pain & Headaches

Neck pain is a common symptom of poor posture.

It happens when your cervical spine and head can’t align neatly on top of the other vertebrae in your spine.

Your neck muscles and even scalp muscles take on extra work to help hold the weight of your head when it’s not stacked over your shoulders and torso in a straight line. Strained neck muscles can also lead to tension headaches.

Fatigue

Your muscles do more work when they hold up an excessively curved spine. Instead of stacking comfortably on the other vertebrae in a column, the spine makes more of an “S” shape that recruits more muscle use.

This can cause you to fatigue faster, whether you’re exercising or doing day-to-day tasks.

Less Mobility

Locking your back muscles in tight positions along your spine can lower your range of motion in your back.

An excessively curved spine surrounded by tight, contracted muscle tissue can result in reduced twisting and bending capabilities over time.

Slouched Appearance

Of course, bad posture doesn’t look great, and it does affect the way you think about yourself.

The way you hold your body reflects the way you hold your self-image internally. Plus, improving your posture can even make you look a few pounds lighter or look better in your clothes!


What Causes Poor Posture?

We talked about this briefly already and the conclusion we came up with, is that it is primarily caused by muscle imbalances that exist in the body. The next question is what causes these muscle imbalances? 

  • Before we discuss what causes these muscle imbalances there are of course more serious causes of poor posture such as bone deformities, injuries and genetic issues. In this case, it is advisable to seek a doctor for treatment help and management.  

Poor posture and muscle imbalances can result from a combination of factors, which could include:

Prolonged Positions with Poor Posture

When muscles stay in either a contracted or overextended position for a long period of time (some say as little as 20 minutes), they get taught and tense.

In turn, this causes the muscles to “lock” your spinal bones into the position they’re in. Then, they remain in that unnatural position as if adopting it as a new “natural” posture.

When you use the same slouchy posture every day at your desk, chances are you will have some posture issues from it.

A simple example would be if you sit all day hunched over at your desk for long periods at a time. What’s going to happen? Your muscles will adapt to that position by tightening up and hold you even more into that position of poor posture.

Not Taking Breaks and Moving

Taking breaks and moving around is what prevents your muscles from getting tense enough to cause postural stress. Sitting in a position that strains your muscles is okay for a little while but at some point you should get up and move to prevent your body from locking into that bad position.

Let’s say you held a forward head posture “text neck” while using your device on an airplane for 3 hours.

The stagnation causes tension to build in the muscles of your neck and back, and when you’re holding a forward head posture, it’s more likely to stay that way and affect your baseline posture.

Never Massaging Tight Muscle Tissue

Muscle tightness is common, so if you never get massages or stretch, you’re likely harbouring tight muscle tissue that needs to be worked out.

You can get a massage from someone else or with a self-massage tool. Stretching is easy and should be incorporated into your daily routine.

What matters is that you massage and stretch your muscle tissue regularly, especially muscles that affect your posture.

Not Addressing Muscle Imbalances

When you have a muscle imbalance you don’t address, it only continues to become further imbalanced over time. Muscle imbalances cause dominating muscles to get stronger and underused muscles to get weaker.

When you let this continue as a vicious cycle with no intervention,  your posture worsens at an ongoing rate.

In the next section, we’ll discuss how to address the muscle imbalances that cause poor posture.


Ways You Can Fix Your Posture

These are some of the major at-home methods for improving your posture, given you don’t have a serious issue like an injury or past surgery causing your misalignment.

Frequent Stretching

Bad posture is often a result of chronic muscle tightness. For example, people who tend to round their shoulders forward will often have tight chest/pec muscles, which pull the shoulders forward.

By engaging in frequent stretching of the tight muscles, you can restore natural length to them, and improve your posture at the same time. Common areas of tightness which cause bad posture are often found in the neck, hip flexors and chest.

Strength Training

According to research, you can fix your posture through corrective strength training exercises [4].

This works by tightening overstretched muscles and fixing muscle imbalances that keep your spinal bones “locked-in” to curved positions.

For example, when you tighten up your core muscles, you can develop better automatic posture—meaning, the posture you have when you’re not thinking about your posture.

In this post, we’ll mainly focus on strength training exercises for restoring postural health, as it’s a natural but a highly effective method.

However, using the other methods for fixing your posture in combination with strength training could lead to a faster rate of improvement.

Posture Devices

Posture devices like back braces, sensors that remind you to check your posture when your spine curves, back stretchers, inversion tables and spinal decompression belts, can help you decompress your spine and retrain its alignment.

Back braces can help improve your posture but nothing beats the effect of wearing a natural posture brace which is powered by strong healthy postural muscles. This can be achieved through the right strengthening exercises and stretches, which we’ll show you how to do later in this article.

Self-Myofascial Release and Self Massage

Massaging out your muscles and releasing any trigger points is beneficial in helping with posture for the same reasons as stretching.

Using massage techniques on tight muscles can help loosen them out and restore any muscle imbalances that cause bad posture. Tools such as foam rollers and massage balls can help relieve extra tightness that doesn’t seem to go away even with frequent stretching.

Posture Awareness

Having a better awareness of your posture and developing strategies to keep it aligned through your daily tasks can lead to better posture. You can develop more ergonomic solutions for your desk job and other places you sit for prolonged periods.

This also means realising when you are slouching or in a position of poor posture and looking to change your position.

Posture awareness helps you feel for which muscles are tight and which muscle imbalance is causing the tightness.

This way, you can use self-massage and strength training techniques to course correct.


Here’s How to Fix Your Posture: Exercises and Stretches For Your Type of Poor Posture

“Bad posture” breaks down into several types of posture problems, taking place at different regions of the spine.

They tend to have a chain reaction and cause other posture problems to appear and develop synergistically.

Poor posture usually takes on the same forms in most people and can be identified according to their postural characteristics. The key is to find the one that fits your description and look to correct the muscle imbalances associated with it.

Here we’ve outlined the main types of posture problems, and provided you with key identifiers and exercises that fix them. 

  • Thoracic kyphosis – Thoracic kyphosis is a rounding of the upper back which some people refer to as ‘hunchback.’
  • Hyperlordosis – Hyperlordosis is an excessive curve of the lumbar spine which leads to lower back pain.
  • Rounded shoulders – Rounded shoulders is when the shoulders round forward and the chest area gets smaller. This usually occurs in conjunction with hunchback posture.
  • Anterior pelvic tilt – Anterior pelvic tilt occurs when the front of the pelvis tilts downward. This type of posture may make it appear as if you are sticking out your butt all the time. This type of pelvic tilt is becoming more and more common.
  • Posterior pelvic tilt – A posterior pelvic tilt is the opposite of anterior pelvic tilt, where the front of the pelvis it tilted upward. Swayback posture can also fall under this category.
  • Forward head posture – People who stare down at their phone or crane their necks towards their screen will find that over time they will develop forward head posture.

We’ll now look at each of these postural dysfunctions in turn.

1. Hunch Back (Thoracic Kyphosis)

How to Fix Thoracic Kyphosis | Rounded Upper Back Fix

Thoracic kyphosis involves an imbalance between opposing muscle groups in your chest and upper back. These muscles get stuck in a “hunch” shape over time when you continually slouch or round forward.

Typically, your upper back is hunched as you slouch in a chair or stoop over your smartphone. It causes the muscles in your chest to contract and shorten, while the muscles in your upper back lengthen and overextend.

You can correct this with exercises that stretch out your chest muscles and exercises that strengthen and tighten your upper back muscles. This helps fix the muscle imbalance in a way that corrects your upper back posture.

It’s important that you do these exercises regularly over time to ensure the imbalance is corrected.

Wall Press

Posture Correction Exercises | Three of the BEST Exercises for Posture!

Wall presses can be done wherever you find a wall, and they work to reverse thoracic kyphosis by strengthening the muscles that support spinal alignment.

  • Sit on the floor with your hips and back against a wall and your back flat.
  • Raise your arms on either side of your head, bending your elbows to make an “L” shape.
  • Keeping your elbows and hands aligned against the wall, squeeze your shoulder blades as you raise your arms straight overhead, pressing your arms out and up from their “L” positions.
  • Slowly lower to the original position and repeat to complete more reps.

Thoracic Spine Stretch

Thoracic Spine Mobilizations with Foam Roller

Using a foam roller, you can teach your spine to improve its mobility against the unnatural curve caused by thoracic kyphosis. You can do this by allowing your weight to fall on either side of the foam roller while bent at an arch.

Using gravity as leverage, this helps decompress your spine and increase circulation between the vertebrae and discs in the thoracic region.

  • Stretch out on your back with a foam roller beneath your shoulder blades
  • Stretch your hands overhead, letting the weight of your shoulders and arms act as an opposing force against your lower body.
  • Feel your upper chest open and your upper back arch. Try to keep your lower back neutral so that the bend is focused at the thoracic spine.
  • Remember that the foam roller should be on your upper back and not your lower back.

2. Hyperlordosis

Hyperlordosis is an excessive curvature of the lumbar spine.  There are many muscle groups involved in hyperlordosis, since it usually involves both an anterior pelvic tilt and an excessively curved lower back.

Quite often, hyperlordosis is coupled with thoracic kyphosis, or a hunch in the upper back. The rounding of the upper back usually occurs to maintain equilibrium in the torso.

Since there are so many muscle groups connected to hyperlordosis, you should do quite a few strengthening exercises and stretches to ensure you address the root of your muscle imbalance.

To correct hyperlordosis you should seek to stretch out your lower back, hip flexors and lats. Exercises focusing on the core and glutes will help target the weakened muscles often associated with hyperlordosis.

Here are the exercises to do:

Supermans

Core Exercise: Superman

Supermans strengthen spinal support muscles in your back. When tightened and strong, they help improve your posture and reverse hyperlordosis.

  • Lie down on your front and put your arms straight over your head on the floor.
  • Stabilise your pelvis, tighten your abs and squeeze your glutes so that your pelvis and lumbar back remain flat against the floor.
  • Engage your abs and squeeze your glutes.
  • In one motion, raise your arms, legs and chest off the floor, into a “flying Superman” pose.
  • Hold for 2 or 3 seconds and slowly lower down and relax. Repeat for more reps.

Quadruped Arm and Leg Raise

Quadruped Arm Opposite Leg Raise

This is a core strengthening exercise.

  • Get on your hands and knees in a “tabletop” position. Have your palms on the floor and your knees bent 90 degrees. Your knees should be stacked under your hips, and your hands should be stacked under your shoulders.
  • Keep a straight spine by drawing your abs in, tucking your tailbone under and lifting from your chest. Let your gaze float straight down onto the floor.
  • Lift one arm straight up, in line with your head and your spine. At the same time, lift the opposite leg and straighten it, so that it’s aligned with your spine.
  • Lower the arm and leg, and repeat with the opposite sides to complete one rep. Be careful not to lose your form and let your spine curve.

Squats

The Squat – An exercise to build leg muscles

Squats can help correct anterior pelvic tilting and help you fix hyperlordosis by improving glute strength.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes pointing forward.
  • Tuck your tailbone down and lift your chest to keep a straight spine.
  • Lower down into a seated position with your legs without losing your spinal alignment. Keep your weight on the back of your heels and tighten your glutes to help you stabilise your bodyweight. When you’re all the way down, your thighs should be parallel to the floor, and your knees and ankles should be in a straight line.
  • Slowly return to the starting position to complete one rep. Continue for more reps.

Lats Stretch

Stretches for the Latissimus Dorsi : Stretching & Exercising

Your lats, or latissimus dorsi, are a huge muscle group on your torso that help keep your pelvis and your spine in line.

When your lats are too contracted, they pull your pelvis into an anterior pelvic tilt and exaggerate the natural inward curve of your lower back. Stretching your lats helps prevent them from pulling on your pelvis and shortening your lower back muscles.

  • Stand with your pelvis in a neutral position. Lift your chest and tighten your glutes and abs to promote a straighter spine.
  • Raise your hands over your head and grab your right wrist in your left hand to pull your right arm sideways. Gradually lean into a left side bend and feel the stretch deepen down the right side of your torso.
  • Hold the side bend for 10 to 30 seconds before switching sides.

Hip Flexor Stretch Lunge

Hip Flexor Stretch | Do It Right!

Your hip flexors get excessively tight when you have an anterior pelvic tilt because they are contracted and their tightness is helping to hold the tilt in place. Lengthening your hip flexors by stretching them can help you achieve a neutral pelvic posture.

  • Take a forward-lunge stance, placing your right foot forward and left knee on the floor. Have your forward leg bent at 90 degrees with your knee directly over your ankle. Place your hands either on the sides of your right foot to help you hold the stretch.
  • Keep your spine in a line by tucking your left hip under. Lengthen through your spine to the crown of your head, and look straight down at the floor to keep your neck aligned.
  • Lean forward into your right hip as you feel the stretch in your right hip flexor.
  • Hold for 15 to 60 seconds. Repeat on the second side.

3. Rounded Shoulders

How to fix rounded shoulders: Fixing anterior rotation of the shoulder joint

When your shoulders round forward, arms turn inward and your chest caves inward. 

Sitting too much with your chest closed off will exacerbate rounded shoulders. As your chest gets used to its closed position the muscles tighten up and pull your shoulders inwards. Stretching your pec muscles out (particularly the pec minor) will help reverse this effect.

Along with rounded shoulders often comes weak upper back muscles. This is why thoracic kyphosis and rounded shoulders usually go hand in hand. 

Here are some stretches and exercises you should do to realign your shoulders and improve your posture.

Pec Minor Stretch

Simple Doorway Pec Minor Stretch: Fixing Rounded Shoulders

Your pec minor is the chest muscle next to your armpit on either side. It’s excessively shortened when your shoulders are rounded forward, causing your back deltoids to become overextended.

Note that this is not the largest pec muscle, it’s a small rather unknown muscle which lies in a somewhat hidden position. For more information see our post on how to stretch the pec muscles.

  • Stand at a door frame in your home with your arms at “L”-shaped positions, bent 90 degrees at the elbows.
  • Lean your body weight forward and push your chest forward past your shoulders.
  • Feel the stretch across your chest and in the fronts of your shoulders.

High Pulley Cable Rows

High Pulley Cable Row ( ust sirt hareketidir )

Your lower/mid traps are the muscles that oppose your chest muscles. When your chest muscles are tight and shortened from a hunched upper back, your traps become lengthened and overextended.

This leads to weak low traps, and in turn, neck pain, as your upper back, neck and shoulders compensate for your low traps to lift your torso. To keep your torso upright, your lower trapezius (“traps”) need to be strong. You can strengthen them with high pulley cable rows.

  • Raise the pulleys to the highest height on the machine.
  • Sit in front of the pulley machine on a chair, bench or stability ball. Grip the handles.
  • Sit tall and pull the handles toward your body and pull your shoulder blades toward each other, contracting your back muscles.
  • Slowly reverse the movement and repeat for more reps.
If you don’t have cables or resistant bands, exercises such as the prone cobra should also work.

Wall Scapular Push Up

Shoulder Pain – Shoulder Blade Push ups for Scapular Stability with Jamie Snow

This exercise helps strengthen core muscles that help bring your shoulder blades flat down your back so that your shoulders don’t round forward and can also help avoid winging of the scapula.

Your serratus anterior and your rhomboids work together to stabilise your shoulder joints, and by tightening them, you can bring them back and straighten their posture.

  • Stand at arm’s length in front of a wall and press your palms against it directly in line with your shoulders.
  • Stretch your shoulder blades away from each other as you contract your chest away from the wall. Hold 1 or 2 seconds.
  • Contract the muscles between your shoulder blades and squeeze your shoulder blades together. Hold 1 or 2 seconds.
  • Continue stretching apart and squeezing together your shoulder blades for more reps.

4. Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Anterior Pelvic Tilt Test | Self Assessment You Can Do

Anterior pelvic tilts involve muscle imbalances in your back and glutes. Specifically, your lower back muscles are excessively tight, which is often caused by prolonged sitting.

People with an anterior pelvic tilt will often develop a curve in the lower back (hyperlordosis) to compensate for the titled pelvis, thus the exercises to correct both are often the same.

With an anterior pelvic tilt your glutes are loose and overextended (also from too much sitting), your hip flexors are likely tight (again, from sitting in chairs) and the core muscles have become weak. The result is a downward tilt of the pelvis.

Here are the best exercises to help you correct it by fixing the muscle imbalances it involves:

Plank

Planks for Beginners: How to do a Plank

Regular planks challenge your entire core and strengthen the muscles that keep you in good postural alignment.

  • Get in a “tabletop” position with your hands and knees on the floor and your back flat.
  • Go down onto your elbows and forearms as you lift your knees off the floor.
  • Squeeze your core to maintain a flat back and straight line from heels to head, while only touching your forearms and the balls of your feet on the floor.
  • Hold for as long as you can without losing form, or around 30 to 60 seconds.

Reverse Plank

Reverse Plank – XFit Daily

Reverse planks challenge your core muscles and engage the gluteal muscles that help reverse an anterior pelvic tilt.

The exercise requires you to maintain a flat back while elevating yourself in a suspended position using the strength of both your core and glutes.

  • Lay on your back and then raise your upper body up to a 45-degree angle to the floor.
  • Place your hands by your sides with your palms on the floor, forming a straight line down from your shoulders.
  • Lift your hips while supporting your weight on your hands and heels. Tighten your core and glutes, keeping your body straight.
  • Hold the position for 10 seconds and slowly lower down to complete one rep.

Side Plank

Core Exercise: Side Plank

Side planks also tighten the muscles in charge of holding your hips in alignment with your torso so you can correct an anterior pelvic tilt.

  • Lie on your right side with your feet stacked one on top of the other. Support yourself on your right forearm, elbow in line with your shoulder.
  • Squeezing your abs and glutes, tuck in your pelvis and raise your hips straight upwards until you make a straight line head to toe.
  • Hold the position for as long as possible while maintaining your form.
  • Repeat on the left side.

Hip Bridge

Glute Bridge Exercise Demo

Hip bridges strengthen your glutes and help you correct the alignment of your pelvis and lower back when you have hyperlordosis or an anterior pelvic tilt.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor a few inches from your butt. Let your arms rest alongside your body, palms on the floor.
  • Squeeze your glutes and raise your pelvis until you make a straight line going from your knees to your shoulders.
  • Hold for 10 seconds and slowly lower to complete a rep.

Hip Flexor Stretch Lunges

The Best Hip Flexor Stretch

Lunges are the best way to stretch out tight hip flexors, because it lengthens them in the opposite direction they sit in when you’re sitting. If you sit long periods a day in a chair to work, be sure to stretch your hip flexors on a daily basis.

  • Step one foot forward and the other back in a lunge position, keeping your hands on your hips or on the floor at your sides to help you balance.
  • Sink into the lunge, leaving your back knee on the floor. Avoid moving your front knee forward past your foot.

5. Posterior Pelvic Tilt (Swayback)

How To Fix Sway Back Posture | The ULTIMATE Guide

A posterior pelvic tilt is when you have overly tight glutes and abs, and it’s most commonly caused by slouching in chairs on a daily basis. You also likely have shortened and tight hamstrings.

Your lower back will likely be flat and lack the natural curve of the lower back.

These muscle imbalances can lead to posterior pelvic tilt, or swayback, which looks like your hips are positioned forward and your torso is slumping behind it, with your upper back rounded as it is when you’re slouching in a chair.

Here are the best exercises for correcting these muscle imbalances so you can reverse a posterior pelvic tilt:

Dumbbell Deadlifts

Dumbbell Deadlift Technique – Perfect Form Video Tutorial Guide

Deadlifts strengthen your lower back.

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place a dumbbell on the outside of each foot.
  • Come down to a low seated squat to pick up a dumbbell in each hand.
  • Slowly lift up to a straight standing position as you lift the weight with your lower back and glutes.
  • Come back down into a squat so that the dumbbells almost reach the floor. Repeat for more reps.

Lying Down Glute Stretch

How To Lying Glute Stretch | Nuffield Health

Stretching out your glutes will help counteract the tightness which can cause a posterior pelvic tilt.

  • Lie down on your back and bend your knees with your feet on the floor.
  • Lift one leg and place the foot on the opposite knee or thigh.
  • Lift the bent leg towards you whilst keeping the other foot laying across your knee.
  • You can reach your hands and place them on your hamstring or knee for more intensity.
  • You should feel a stretch across the glute. After you are done, switch over your legs to stretch out the other glute.

Hamstring Stretch

Hip Opening and Hamstring stretch Great for Runners Cyclists & Athletes True Mobility | Yoga Dose

Your hamstrings are contracted when your legs are bent in a seated position. Stretching them out can help you maintain better postural alignment. This hamstring stretch is easy to do and highly effective:

  • Lie down on your back on a mat and bring one leg straight up a 90-degree angle.
  • Use a yoga strap, resistance band or even a folded towel to grab your foot around the arch of it and hold it in a hamstring stretch for at least 30 seconds.
  • Slowly lower down and then switch legs.

Upward Facing Dog

How to Do an Upward Facing Dog | Yoga

Upward facing dog is a yoga pose that serves as a 2-in-1 stretch and strengthening exercise. It helps correct a posterior pelvic tilt through a 2-pronged approach—it stretches your abs while it strengthens and tightens your lower back.

  • Start in a push-up position, facing down on a mat.
  • Drop your hips down to the mat and support your weight on mostly on the palms of your hands, and slightly on the tops of your feet.
  • Feel your abs and hip flexors stretch and lengthen, while your upper back tightens. Hold for as long as comfortable and then slowly lower down.

6. Forward Head Posture

Corrective Exercise # 2 – Forward Head Posture

Forward head posture is a common cause of neck and shoulder pain because it’s a misalignment of your cervical spine and head that causes pulling on these upper body muscles.

When your posture is aligned correctly, your head should stack neatly at the top of your spine. When your cervical spine curves outward and forward excessively (forward head posture), the weight of your head hangs out of balance and must be supported by your neck, which in turn pulls on your shoulders and upper back muscles.

To fix forward head posture, you need to stretch out the neck muscles which pull your head forward and strengthen the muscles that prevent your head from falling forward.

Chin Tuck

The BEST Forward Head Posture Correction Exercises | Vulture Neck?

The chin tuck is one of the most effective exercises for correcting forward head posture and relieving neck pain. It helps lengthen and stretch the back of your neck, which is usually shortened while tightening and strengthening the front of your neck, which is typically overextended when you have forward head posture.

  • Lie down on your back and tuck your chin into your chest, as if you’re trying to grow a “double chin.”
  • Hold 3 to 5 seconds, then release. Repeat the chin tuck 10 times.

Cat-Cow Pose

How to Do a Cat Cow Pose for Energy | Yoga

Cat cow pose is a gentle way to strengthen your core muscles and bring your head into better alignment with your spine.

  • Come onto a mat on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your palms and hips over your knees.
  • Round your back into an arch, tightening your abs and stretching your back muscles.
  • Reverse the bend, bringing your chest and tailbone up as you curve your spine inward toward the floor.
  • Repeat for more reps, focusing on contracting and lengthening your core muscles.

Wall Alignment Exercise for Forward Head Posture

Corrective Exercise for Forward Head Posture and Upper Crossed Syndrome

This exercise is simple but challenging for anyone who has forward head posture. It’s a must for anyone who wants to rapidly correct the muscle imbalance causing their head to sit forward in front of their torso.

This exercise targets much of the same muscles as the chin tuck, but utilises a wall instead.

  • Stand with your back against a wall and your upper back straightened, shoulder blades pulling together.
  • Bring your head back so that the back of your head is flat against the wall.
  • If your forward head posture is severe, you may be tempted to bring your head up to achieve this. Try to look forward and keep your neck neutral and aligned.
  • Hold for 5 to 10 seconds and then release. Repeat for more reps.

What Does Good Posture Look Like?

There are different activities in the day commonly responsible for posture problems or causing aggravation to existing posture problems.

In this section, we’ll look at each position and how you can correct your posture when you’re doing that activity.

Sitting

Posture Coach Shows How to Sit Properly

 

It’s incorrect to slouch in your chair at an excessive curvature. It’s also incorrect to try and hold your spine in a perfectly straight position. You should have an ergonomic chair that supports your spine’s natural curvature.

Sit with your hips against the back of the chair and your feet flat on the floor. Your chair should be adjustable so as to allow you this 90-degree hip and knee posture when you change its height. If your hips can’t reach the back of the chair, you should put a pillow on the back of your chair to fill in the space behind you.

If you’re typing at a keyboard for prolonged periods, you should place your keyboard low above your lap by using a keyboard tray. Avoid hunching at a laptop keyboard, because it’s impossible to get ergonomically aligned at a laptop. Use the help of a low keyboard to let your shoulders and elbows relax down by your sides as you sit and type.

Standing

How To Stand Properly | Standing Desk | Strategy

Many people shift their weight to one side when they’re standing, but keeping your weight evenly distributed on your feet can take the stress off your skeletal structure.

When you stay aligned, your back relaxes and can achieve better posture with less effort. While standing, you should remember to keep your abs tucked in and your chest lifted. Gently engage your entire core as you stand to help you maintain good posture.

Avoid forcing perfect posture as you stand.

Rather, let yourself relax enough to not tire out from standing with good posture.

The biggest aspect that will help improve your standing posture will be strength training exercises, such as back stretches and upper back tightening exercises.

Sleeping

Proper Sleep Posture

Believe it or not, many people accumulate postural stress throughout the night as they sleep, by sleeping in a hunched position. Many people sleep on their side in a “C” curve shape or a fetal-like position. This contributes to the same poor posture problems that accumulate from daytime activities like using a laptop at a table for hours.

The best position for sleep, when it comes to your posture, is sleeping on your back. This takes the weight off your skeletal system and lets your muscles relax directly into the bed instead of being used to keep you in a hunched position.

You can place pillows under your knees and/or elbows if it makes it more comfortable for you to sleep on your back.

Especially if you have hyperlordosis, you may find large pillows under your knees, to be helpful in order to make up for the arch. With pillows under your knees, you won’t hold your back in the arch position through the night.

Likewise, you won’t hold your upper back in a forward hunch when you sleep flat on your back.

If you are a side-sleeper and have to sleep on your side, consider getting a cervical pillow and a special knee pillow between your knees.

Walking

Posture Coach Explains How to WALK Properly

Walk with your chin up and eyes forward. Try to avoid looking down at the floor.

Let your shoulders and arms relax downward. Keep your core engaged as you walk, with your abs gently pulled in [4].

Try to keep your feet pointing straight ahead rather than in a duck-footed position.

Lifting

HOW TO LIFT A LIGHT / HEAVY OBJECT SAFELY?

When you lift weights or heavy objects, keep a wide stance, with your feet at least shoulder-width apart, if not wider. Bend at your knees and hips, and never at your back only when using weights.

To maintain good form, look straight ahead of you, maintain a straight back, lift your chest and draw your shoulder blades down and back.

Keeping your spine as neutral as possible helps you lift with greater power and a reduced risk of injury. Try not to raise a weight over shoulder level, to avoid putting too much weight on your spine [5]

Driving

Proper Posture While Driving

Holding your hands at 10 and 2 on your steering wheel requires you to scrunch up the muscles between your neck and the fronts of your shoulders. Bring them down to 9 and 3 to help open up your chest, bring down your arm level and let your shoulder muscles relax.

Adjust your seat, and/or—if possible—the steering wheel, of your car, to fit your body size. It’s ideal to maintain a seated position that enables you to see comfortably through your windshield, but also prevents you from putting strain on your neck, shoulders and upper back [6].


Final Tips for Getting Better Posture Fast

To maintain good posture, you’ll want to incorporate some lifestyle habits with your stretching and strength training.

Think about it this way, you can do all the right exercises and stretches but if you keep putting your body into poor posture then you are re-establishing the muscle imbalances which lead to poor posture.

Here are the best practices you should follow to get faster results in improving your posture:

Keep Up with Regular Strength Training and Stretching

Good posture is often thought of as a good habit, but truly it’s a result of strong, toned up muscles and a balanced core.

Strengthening your back and abdominal muscles will go a long way in improving your body’s “automatic” posture, or the natural posture you hold when you’re not thinking about it.

Take a Break Every 20 Minutes to Change Positions

Your muscles start to “lock-in” to a position after about 20 minutes of holding you in it. After that, it becomes harder and harder to “loosen” from that position afterwards.

You can avoid stiffness and back pain and improve your posture by changing your position every 20 minutes.

Better yet, do a stretch or quick exercise for boosting circulation at every 20-minute mark, and you can avoid the postural stress that comes from sitting in a rigid position without moving, as many office workers do.

Posture Correction Takes Time

It takes time to see the accumulative effect of posture correction by implementing good posture habits regularly. Within a few weeks to months, however, you should start seeing and feeling noticeable results. But then again it all depends on how bad your posture is to start off with and how effective your exercise and stretching regime is.

As long as you stay consistent with strength training, avoiding bad postures, and any other posture correcting methods you choose, you will see results from putting in the time.

Consider Ergonomic Options

Choose an ergonomic chair, ergonomic keyboard, ergonomic driver’s seat setup, and whatever else it takes to take the postural stress out of your daily lifestyle.

It won’t solve everything by itself, but it will make it easier for you to correct your posture by reducing postural stress during sitting.

You could also use a back brace to help you hold a better posture when you have existing back pain that makes it hard to do so.


Bottom Line: You Can Reverse Your Bad Posture

Thankfully, fixing bad posture is possible.

However, it takes a commitment to doing corrective exercises and keeping up with habits like moving around and becoming more active.

In most cases, the real key to fixing your posture is by undergoing a total change in your lifestyle – less technology and sitting around.

You can also make your usual sitting environments more ergonomic for yourself to reduce postural stress accumulating during your day. Plus, you can correct your sleeping position and stop it from adding to your posture problems.

Knowing is half the battle, so once you’re equipped with the knowledge of how to fix your posture, the rest is up to you.

If you have an injury or health condition, be sure to consult with your physician before attempting any of these exercises.

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