You’re slouching as you read this sentence, aren’t you? No judgment—whether we’re conscious of it or not, we all do it. Even if you do have your perfect posture moments, the simple fact that our muscles tire easily when they stay in one position (it’s true—our bodies are built to be in motion) means a slump is never far behind. However, you don’t need to invest in a posture harness or enlist someone to poke you in the lower back every time you start to sink down in your chair. Take note of a few simple tricks you can do throughout the day, and soon you’ll be sitting (and standing) tall.
Keep reading for six posture fixes (walking with a book on your head is not one of them)!
Hans Van Brakel for Elle Netherlands
Stretching out your muscles is a good way to avoid unnecessary strain, a common cause of slouching. Doing a few cat and cow stretches in the morning helps to wake up your muscles after sleep and brings your back alignment top of mind right away. You can also try a set of wall angels. Stand with the back side of your body against a wall, legs hip-distance apart, arms extended in 90-degree angles on either side (like a goal post). Then, slowly raise and lower your arms, maintaining contact with the wall. This opens and lengthens the muscles in the front of your body. Shoulder shrugs and head tilts are easy movements to work in throughout the day that will also loosen you up. Another a good idea? Standing. Get up and go for a walk (even just a lap around the office) every 30 to 60 minutes to keep your muscles happy.
Adding a lumbar support pillow to your chair supports your spine and forces your back into the correct position the second you sit down. (In a pinch, a small pillow or rolled up towel will help decrease posture stress, too.) Better yet, buy an exercise ball. Sitting on a balance ball like the ones you use at the gym encourages proper posture and maintains your lumber curves. Sitting tall on an exercise ball also strengthens your core, which helps your posture in the long-term.
Camilla Akrans for Vogue Germany
Sadly, you’re probably sitting in your chair all wrong. The correct way requires you to place both feet flat on the ground, weight distributed evenly. Crossing your legs is an unbalanced posture. Plus, it often causes you to lean, which is another unbalanced posture that puts undue stress on one side of your body. If your legs are too short to be able to comfortably plant both feet on the ground, prop something under your feet. Try using a laptop stand or an old boot box.
If you have to outstretch your arms to reach your keyboard or tilt your head to view your computer, your workspace needs some revamping. Adjust your positioning so that arms are flexed, not extended, and wrists are straight when typing. Aim for a 75- to 90-degree angle at your elbows. Also, your monitor should be level with your natural eye line. Add a riser or a sturdy book underneath your computer to lift the monitor up to your eye level. Are you leaning forward to view your screen? Time to get your eyes examined. Your out-of-date prescription could be causing you to slouch or lean forward.
Never underestimate the powers of visualization. Remember the visual of a string extending from the top of your head, gently pulling you up towards the ceiling? That image worked in ballet class and it still works today. If you’re not convinced this little mind trick will make a difference, try something more concrete. Print out photos of excellent posture and place them where you’ll see them. Every time you catch a glimpse of perfect posture, you’ll be reminded to reassess your own. Plus, photos are less annoying than having timed reminders go off throughout the day—although posture alarms can be quite effective, if you can stick with them.
High heels and thick-soled shoes alter your body’s center of gravity and throw off your alignment, so opt for flats or low heels whenever possible. Also, carrying around heavy purses increases strain and negatively impacts your posture. Clean your bag out regularly to avoid toting around heavy objects you don’t need, and switch arms frequently to prevent stress and fatigue.
What other quick posture fixes do you use? Share your tips in the comments below!