Good posture is an important part of your long-term health. Good posture helps you to stand, walk, sit, and lie down in positions that place the least strain on your supporting muscles and ligaments during movement and weight-bearing activities. As we get older, common habits such as slouching, sitting for extended periods, and physical inactivity can cause muscle fatigue and tension that ultimately lead to poor posture. Medline Plus lists several complications from poor posture, including back pain, joint degeneration, decreased flexibility, rounded shoulders, and misalignment of your musculoskeletal system.
Improve Your Posture
The good news is that awareness of your posture, along with an understanding of healthy movement strategies, can help. The National Institutes of Health suggest making the following lifestyle choices to help improve your posture:
- Be mindful of your posture. Take a moment to assess how you are sitting or standing during everyday activities, like watching television, washing dishes, sitting at a desk, or walking.
- Stay active. Yoga, tai chi, and other exercises that focus on body awareness can be especially helpful with improving your posture. It is also good to do exercises that strengthen your core, the muscles around your back, abdomen, and pelvis.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Extra weight can weaken your abdominal muscles, cause problems for your pelvis and spine, and contribute to low back pain. All of these can hurt your posture.
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. High heels can throw off your balance and force you to walk differently. This puts more stress on your muscles and harms your posture.
- Make sure work surfaces are at a comfortable height. Whether you're sitting in front of a computer, making dinner, or eating a meal, try to find positions that don’t cause you to slouch or stretch too much.
To learn more about achieving good posture, visit Medline Plus’s Guide to Good Posture. Your healthcare provider can also give feedback on how you’re moving, help you avoid unhealthy movement patterns, and work with you to create a plan to strengthen your core muscles.