How To Improve Your Posture

How to Improve Your Posture.Let’s have an open thread today about POSTURE — have any of you tried to improve your posture? Have you had success with small adjustments and simple exercises, or did you need a systematic overhaul? I was thinking the other day about how good posture is SO key for looking polished. I mean, we can talk about clothes and fit and style until we’re blue in the face, but if you’re slumping and slouching in your $2000 Armani blazer you’re going to look as bad as if you had a $20 blazer. Good posture is also incredibly important if you work in a desk job — if you have bad posture, sitting all day just seems to amplify the problems. This is something I personally struggle with, so let’s discuss — what are YOUR best hacks for improving your posture? Do you feel like your posture has gotten better or worse over the years?

For my $.02, it’s a big goal right now to improve my posture! My second son turned three in May, and I’m just now realizing that babies (or perhaps the lifestyle I lead after my babies!) has really left my core decimated, which really affects my posture — it’s harder to keep my back and shoulders zipped up because my abs get tired. (Tiny violin, I know.) I don’t have the common postpartum issue of diastasis recti but my abs in general are very weak, and I’m finally in physical therapy right now because of that. I went down this huge Internet rabbithole before PT, though, reading about all of these things that really come back to posture issues — “lower crossed syndrome,” “anterior pelvic tilt,” “smartphone neck,” and more. I’ve bookmarked a million stretches to “counteract” the effects of sitting (e.g., this one from Lifehacker), but in general I think I just need to focus on my posture more, all the time. I have a Lumo Lift* (read my review here) but have fallen out of using it, and I’ve tried to correct my office ergonomics by getting one of those kneeling chairs* for my office (mini review: meh), and even bought the little $25 standing desk we mentioned a few weeks ago (quick review: it is ugly and huge but definitely does elevate your desk!). I also went through the comment Corporette threads (as I often do to see what the collective wisdom of the group is!) and found a super old thread where someone recommended the blog Katy Says, where the blogger talked so much about alignment issues that she’s now got a book out called Alignment Matters* — I just got that out of the library this week. 

I’ve also adjusted my thinking re: exercise and core work — in my head over the years I’ve mistakenly conflated “washboard abs = core work = something you work on after you’ve lost those last 10 pounds.” Instead, for me I’m realizing that if I really want to improve my posture, core and trunk work is the true starting point, whether through Pilates or other efforts. 

So let’s hear it, ladies — have you ever tried to improve your posture, either for health, comfort, or image reasons? Do you feel like poor posture keeps you from looking polished? What have you attempted to do to “fix” your posture — and what have you actually seen results with? (Did anyone get into Pilates or barre or PiYo or other specific exercise classes out there just in the interest of strengthening your core in order to improve your posture?)

* Affiliate links. Picture credit: Deposit Photos / JaykaylImprove Your Posture and Look More Polished - Tips and Tricks. Image of a businesswoman balancing a book on her head.

Struggling with how to improve your posture? There are major benefits for working women to improving your posture -- you'll look more polished, be able to counteract all those bad effects from sitting all day, and generally be more comfortable. But HOW to improve your posture? We're rounding up the best posture tips and tricks today!

 

 

Comments

  1. Anonymous :

    So so true.

    Core core core…. BUT, we tend to ignore the back/upper back. This leads to the slouch, curved shoulders. Anterior chest muscles stronger than back, which leads to this imbalance and slouch.

    A family member has gone through physical therapy recently, and now I look around and see how terrible most of us are regarding our posture

    • Anonymous :

      This! I recently (few months ago) started a strength training program that includes a lot of different types of rows for the back muscles, and friends have commented in the last few days about how much better my posture has gotten! I didn’t even realize it, but I think they’re right.

    • This but also: stretching your pecs. Sometimes the hunch is from weakness but sometimes it’s from tight muscles! I’m a rock climber and see this a lot in both myself and others. If I don’t focus on stretching my pecs for awhile my shoulders start to curl inwards.

  2. Pen and Pencil :

    Has anyone tried an electronic posture coach? I am interested but hesitant to take the plunge.

  3. Working out has really helped my posture, especially the core/upper back work. I definitely sit up straighter (and bonus, according to my friends, it makes me look thinner).

  4. Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

    Being mindful to sit up straight has really helped me. You can have a perfectly ergonomic set-up, but if you have the tendency to sit on the edge of your chair and hunch over when you intensely focus like I do, you have to remember to just not do that.

    I used to be a trainer and people would complain that if they sat up straight, they would get back pain and ab soreness. But that would dissipate over time, particularly when combined with strength work.

    • Anonymous :

      Yes to the hunching – when I’m concentrating I often have my elbow on my desk with my chin on my hand! So terrible.

    • Anonymous :

      Are you willing to recommend specific exercises? I do strength training regularly but still find my upper back hurts when I try not to slouch.

      • Anonymous :

        Sorry, I guess what you are saying is not slouching is an exercise itself and if I keep doing it soreness will dissipate. But since I tend to forget, if you or anyone else wants to recommend other exercises I would be grateful!

        • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

          Yes, there is that, but you can also strength your back/core at the same time. I am all about strength training. For back, I recommend the lat pulldown, cable row, deadlifts, I’ll put an excellent article in another post with the caveat that all the pictures are of really muscular men. These exercises will NOT make you look like this.

          For core, I like the classics. Roman chair, crunches on an exercise ball (with weights behind your head), and raising your legs while laying on the ground or an exercise bench. Throw in some side bends (with weight) for the obliques since they are important for stability too.

          On weight-start low, and build up slowly. You may be surprised how much you can lift eventually and you may also be surprised how it makes day to day life easier (i.e., picking up luggage, children, etc.).

          bodybuilding dot com is a great resource for strength training, even if you are not a body builder. youtube also has good videos on form, which is particularly important if you end up using larger weights.

        • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

          I’m in moderation on my recommendations. Sigh. I imagine it will come through shortly. :)

          • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

            https://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/jon14.htm

          • Anonymous BigLaw Associate :

            Looks like my link went through, but the associated comment is more helpful!!

        • Anonymous :

          Planks are amazing! I used to have a really weak core, and then made a challenge to plank for one minute every day before bed for a month. The results after only a month of doing that, which is 30 minutes of “exercise” in total in an entire month, were pretty awesome.

  5. My grandmother used to push my bent elbows back and then thread a yardstick between them, across my back, whenever I was at her table. I emphatically don’t recommend it as a way to improve posture, but if there’s a bright side, it does help you feel what it feels like to be sitting / standing up straight. If you have terrible posture like me, sometimes what feels like sitting up straight is just a really awkward pose instead.

    • Thisperson1 :

      My grandmother made me drink a large glass of milk with every meal, even though I was mildly allergic and spent most of my time visiting her covered in hives. Our grandmothers would have been great friends! ;)

    • My grandmother and mother didn’t let me out of the house in heels until I could cross the living room with a book balanced on my head. The fact that I have a ridge down the middle of my head made this particularly challenging.

    • This is what I was taught. And the judge INSISTS that I stand at a 45 degree angle to him so that I can address BOTH him and the Jury. The manageing partner told me I should always practise holding a phone book on my head walkeing down the street. I would NEVER do that outside, but I do walk in my apartement with the Yellow Pages on my head. The judge told me today that I look like Scarlett Johansen!! I told him that is NOT true, even in my dreams. She is younger then me and is MARRIED. I am older, and unmarried, and alot dumpier then she EVER was! It was nice of the judge to say that tho. I am VERY lucky that the judge likes me, and lets me win almost ALL of my cases! YAY!!!!

  6. My posture is also terrible and I did a bunch of research a few years back to try and find a way to correct it. From my research, this was the best thing/method I found. https://shop.gokhalemethod.com/ However, that was just from research. I bought the book but have never been disciplined enough to implement it.

  7. Michelle B. :

    I was inspired by an older legal assistant (I’d guess early 70s) in my office with perfect posture to adopt her best practices. Here is what I learned from her:
    – She exercises regularly – she and some of the partners share a personal trainer who comes to do a string of appointments a few times a week. She can do a surprising number of push ups. I really like Tone It Up’s daily workouts which always include some ab work. https://my.toneitup.com/pages/daily-workout-1
    – She never leans back in her chair while typing.
    – She doesn’t cross her legs at the thigh when she sits.
    – She uses perfect typing form with her shoulders down and back while her wrists do not rest on the keyboard or desk (implementing this required me to shift around my desk layout so my arms are perpendicular to the desk edge).
    – She gets up periodically (usually to do administrative tasks – I walk to people’s offices to ask questions/give updates instead of calling).

    I also stretch every morning and night in my pajamas. My favorite one to do right when I get home from work is number 6 from this list: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/cristina-lacob/lower-back-pain-eased-by-simple-yoga-poses_b_8548490.html

  8. I had terrible posture through my early 20s. People used to comment, and not just my mother. Now, it is better-ish. Lifting weights (particularly compound exercises) helped a lot to develop overall strength. Reading Amy Cuddy’s book Presence helped, too. I naturally cross my legs when I stand, and wrap my legs around when I sit. Her book helped me to tune in more to how I carry myself and make small adjustments. I’m also a big believer in chest stretches, like lying on a yoga block with your arms in a ‘t’ shape helps to counter act forward rolling, which is so easy to do when you’re on a computer all day.

  9. Best thing I’ve done to improve my posture is yoga, bikram, yin and vinyasa.

  10. I was a professional dancer before my current career, and still have vestiges of the posture. I know I slump and slouch a lot more than I used to, but my posture is complimented frequently. Core strength is important, but so is flexibility. Don’t strengthen without also lengthening. Yoga, pilates, and gyrotonic are all good for both.

    If I’m feeling low energy, I do a quick posture check. Are my ears over my shoulders? Is there space between my ribcage and pelvis? Am I breathing? I make adjustments, and usually feel better right away.

  11. Chicago Attorney :

    I swear by The Dailey Method, which is a barre studio that incorporates Yoga, Pilates, stretching, strength training, and ballet. It’s amazing and has given me both the strength and awareness to improve my posture. Check it out!

  12. One word: planks. Do 30 seconds during a commercial break, or for 10 minutes (1-minute rest between each plank) and then work your way up to longer holds. It works wonders!!

  13. At the risk of adding to your stress about finding your “power posture” and as an expert in the field, let me be the first to share, children learn posture at home. But here is a tip for sitting straighter. Scoot your hips as deep into the chair as possible. That will allow you to avoid the ‘anterior tilt’ that leads to slouching.

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