6 ways to improve your posture for better health and to lower neck and back pain


Always slouching? Here’s how to train yourself to stand tall

Nicole Moraleda |

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If your back feels stiff and sore after hours of hunching over your textbooks, or if you’ve developed text neck from using your phone too much, don’t worry, we’ve got your back. 

Here are some simple tips to help straighten out your spine. Not only will fixing your posture make you look taller and more confident, it can also help you breathe more easily, and improve your overall well-being.

Stand up straight

If your body’s become used to slouching, you may need a refresher on how it feels to stand up straight. To check whether your posture is correct, stand with your back against a wall with the back of your head, your shoulders, and your bottom touching the wall. You should be able to slip your hand between your back and the wall. If your hand doesn’t fit, arch your back slightly until you can; if the space is too big, pull your belly button in towards your spine to flatten your back a little.

Walking tall

Now comes the tricky part. Move away from the wall and try to stay in position as you walk. Keep your shoulders back, chest out and eyes looking straight ahead. It might help to imagine a string pulling you up from the top of your head. This may feel a bit weird at first, but it should feel more natural the more you practise. Use cues to remind you to check your posture throughout the day, like every time you see the colour red or walk through a doorway.

Sitting pretty

When sitting, keep your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Your knees should be bent at a right angle with your feet flat on the floor. It’s also important to find a chair with a backrest that supports your lower back, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting in that chair. 

Try not to stay seated for long periods of time; stand up and move around every 30 minutes or so. But if you’re sitting a two-hour exam, for example, and can’t exactly get up for a stroll, roll your shoulders back a few times, tilt your head back and forth, and (if you can manage to avoid looking like you’re cheating) twist your torso from side to side. If you’re working on a computer or laptop, position it so that the screen is at eye level to avoid straining your neck.

Heavy lifting

We understand that, as students, you need to carry a lot. As far as bags go, backpacks are probably the best type for your back next to bags on wheels – but only if you use them right. The beauty of backpacks is that they are the best at distributing weight evenly on your body. So although it may look cooler to use only one of the straps with your backpack hanging low, using both of them will save your spine from the extra pressure.

If you’re using a bag with only one strap, make sure you regularly switch the side you carry it on to give your shoulders a break.

While you’re sleeping
Just because you’re sleeping doesn’t mean you can throw proper posture out the window. Your sleeping position can have a big impact on your spine. Try to sleep on your side with a pillow between your legs for support. If you prefer to sleep on your back, add pillows wherever there’s space between your body and your mattress to keep your body correctly aligned. Avoid sleeping on your stomach if you can, as sleeping in this position can put pressure on your spine and strain your neck.

Keep moving

Many exercises can improve your posture. An easy exercise you can do anywhere is squeezing your shoulder blades together. Squeeze for five seconds and release. Repeat this about three to four times a day. Yoga is also great for improving your posture. But if yoga isn’t your thing, that’s OK. Any exercise that strengthens your muscles will do your body good and keep you standing straight and strong.

Edited by Charlotte Ames-Ettridge

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