101 tips to improve your posture

Welcome to the ULTIMATE and most comprehensive list of ways to improve your postureeveryday!


1Here’s the brutal truth about posture…

A vast majority of us have absolutely shocking posture.

… and it’s becoming an increasingly urgent and growing issue!

Back pain. Shoulder pain. Neck pain. All this pain from bad posture!

If you’re serious about improving your posture, you need to make a DECISION and start to take ACTION.

Your posture is not going to magically fix itself. YOU are the one who is responsible!


// Join the PostureDirect.Com mailing list:

  … Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to get the latest updates!


// The categories:

I have sorted all of the posture tips into 12 main categories. Feel free to click through!


// General information

gen

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


1. Know what the ideal posture is

How can you improve your posture if you do not know exactly what you are aiming for? It’s not just about “sitting straight” or “standing upright”. There is a little bit more to it!

Have a look at this post: The ideal posture to see and feel exactly what your posture should be.

2. Keep your neck elongated

… And no, I don’t literally mean to make your neck long like the Kayan people of Mayanmar (see photo). But – to prevent a forward head posture, imagine someone is constantly pulling the hair on the back of your head up towards the ceiling.

Think about your neck being “long and tall”. Do NOT let that chin poke forward!

3. Spread your shoulders

Make your shoulders as long and wide as possible. Imagine this – you are one of those bodybuilders at the gym strutting around and showing off your muscles. It’s not just squeezing the shoulder blades together.

4. Do not puff out your chest

swayback

Puffing out the chest and arching your back is NOT good posture. Position your chest/rib cage so that it feeds directly into your pelvis. (see above)

5. Sit on your sit bones

ffr

Your sit bones are those pointy bits of your pelvis. You can’t sit with good posture if your pelvis not in a good position to start off with. As you sit down, make sure that you are sitting directly on top of the sit bones.

For more information, check out the post: How to position your pelvis whilst sitting.

6. Stay relaxed!

Hey you! Loosen up a little! Having good posture shouldn’t feel like you’re tensing every single muscle in your body. The aim is to maintain your optimal posture whilst remaining as relaxed as possible.

7. Take hot/warm showers

Heat is fantastic way to relax those tight muscles that are pulling you into a bad posture.

 

// Best exercises for posture


8. Chin retraction

chintuck

Tuck your chin in. Hold this position for 5 seconds and repeat 10 times. This exercise is great if you have a forward head posture. Remember – “where the head goes, the body follows”.

9. Shoulder roll

Draw 30x big circles with your shoulders in a backwards motion. This will counteract all the slouching you have been doing!

10. Thoracic extension

Thoracic extension

Lie on top of a foam roller or rolled up towel.  Stretch your arms above your head and feel the opening of your chest. Sustain this position for at least 1 minute.

11. Wall angel

angel 1angel 2

This is definitely my favourite postural exercise of all time.

Here’s what to do – Place the back of your head, shoulders and spine in direct contact with a wall behind you. Proceed to glide your hands from the W to the above head position.

Aim to keep the whole arm in contact with the wall throughout the movement. Feel the burn!

12. Hip flexor stretch

hip flexor stretch

Do you sit? My guess would be a yes… In fact, I bet that you are sitting down right now whilst reading this. With prolonged sitting, the hip flexor muscle group will get very tight and can adversely affect your posture. Stretch them out for 1 minute each!

13. Perform the Utkatasana yoga pose

shoulder retraction

The direct translation of “Utkatasana” is powerful posture. With a name like that, this pose must be great for your posture!

Hold this yoga position (see above) for at least 30-60 seconds. You should feel all your posture muscles working.

14. Give me more exercises!

Hungry for an extensive list of more postural exercises? Have a look at these other posts:

15. Invest in a foam roller

foamroll

This is a great DIY tool to release those tight areas. By placing the targetted area over the foam roller and applying your body weight on the top, the pressure will release the muscle.

16. Get a massage ball

rogue

A massage ball is great for the same reason as mentioned above with the foam roller, however, I would say it’s better for areas that require a deeper release.

 

 

// For when you’re walking

walking

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


17. Start to glide walk

Take long strides as you walk.

Allow your leg to remain on the ground for just a bit longer before you start to swing your other leg.

Why?… It engages the butt muscles which are very important in the stabilisation of the pelvis.

18. Walk with confidence

Walk (… or strut) around as if you were indestructible, confident and strong. Stay up right!

19. Don’t look at the floor

Unless there is a good reason, you should not fixate your gaze at the ground whilst you are walking.

20. Pretend there is a pole stuck to the back of your head and bottom

This will help you keep a straight and up right torso.

21. Do not lead with your chin

Keep that chin tucked in and remain elongated throughout your spine. Pretend you are the tallest person in the room.

22. Do not walk with your palms facing behind you

This will place your shoulder in a bad position and encourage you to walk with a slouched posture.

23. Minimise the amount of carrying

This could be your hand bag, back pack, your kids, shopping bags etc… the list goes on. If you can limit your exposure to lifting, this will help reduce the stress on your postural muscles.

 

 

// Using the computer

deskk

Image courtesy of adamr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


24. Get an ergonomic assessment

There is absolutely no way you can maintain good posture if your workstation is not designed to support you.

Talk to someone from HR to get a health professional to specifically assess your office chair, desk and computer position.

25. Download my FREE E-book: How to set up your workstation

workstationside

Can’t get an ergonomic assessment? No worries… I’ll teach you exactly what you need to know in my FREE e-book: How to set up your workstation. It’s not as difficult as you may think.

26. Get a kneeling chair

kneelingchair

What can I say… Kneeling chairs are awesome! This chair automatically places your pelvis in a position that encourages you to sit up right.

27. Sit on an exercise ball

Not only are exercise balls great at the gym, they also promote postural strength when you sit on them.

28. Alternate between different chairs

Is it weird to have 2 different chairs that you use in the office? I don’t think so.

In fact, I actually have 3 different chairs that I switch among.

Why should one alternate between different chairs?… It causes us to MOVE. Sitting all day without moving is a major cause of bad posture!

29. Get an adujustable standing desk

standdesk

The standing desk will allow you to continue to work on your computer without having the need to sit all of the time. Remember – the more you can avoid staying in the one position, the less likely you will develop bad posture.

30. Set an alarm every hour

Regular breaks from sitting is the key. Set an alarm on either your computer or mobile phone to serve as a reminder to get out of your seat.

31. Get a posture buddy

Pick someone else in the office who wants to fix their posture. Your job is to catch the other person slouching and quickly remind them to sit up right!

32. Move around whilst seated

Who says you need to stay completely still when you’re sitting? Get your body moving! Any movement will do. It might look weird, but hey, you will be doing your body a favour.

33. Drink water

Another way to make sure you take breaks from sitting is to drink water regularly. This will force you to get off your chair, walk down the corridor and go the bathroom.

34. Organise a posture workout with your colleagues

What better way to not only improve your posture, but to help your fellow work mates with their posture at the same time.

Take initiative and lead a 2 minute exercise class. Make it fun. Play some music. Have some laughs. (You might need to ask permission from your boss first though!)

35. Get rid of arm rests

I have never been a big fan of arm rests. They often prevent you from getting close to the table and if not set up correctly, can actually encourage you to slouch in your chair.

36. Sit on the edge of the chair

This is particularly useful if your chair lacks lumbar support. You do not want to mould your body into a chair that does not support you!

37. Use a head set

If you are required to use the phone frequently, do not hold the phone between your ear and shoulder.

38. Learn to touch type

If you require to look down at your keyboard to type for long periods at a time, this will place a significant amount of stress through your postural muscles.

39. Use a laptop dock

latopdock

Do not use a laptop for an extended period of time. There is no way to maintain good posture whilst using them.

Use a laptop docking station and connect a separate keyboard so that you are able to correctly position them to promote good posture.

40. Reset your posture muscles

You know you have been sitting for too long when your muscles start to hurt.

When this happens, get off your chair and lie down. Keep knees bent. Relax your muscles and focus on flattening your entire spine on the ground.

 

 

// Sleeping

sleepers

Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


41. Sleep on your back

This position is the best as it promote neutral alignment and symmetry. For more information, check out this post: The best sleeping position.

42. Learn how to do “stretch lying”

Did you know that you can actually stretch your spine whilst you sleep? Check out this video by the Gokhale Method to find out how.

43. Sleep on your side

If you can not sleep on your back for whatever reason, the next best position is on your side. Just make sure your spine is straight.

44. Place pillow in the small of the neck

If you are sleeping on the side, a correctly placed pillow will ensure that the neck is in the straight neutral alignment.

45. Get a memory foam pillow

Since we all come in different shapes and sizes, it is best to get a pillow the moulds to your type of neck posture.

46. Use pillow to support body

Once you are in a good position, place pillows around you so that you are as comfortable as possible. This will reduce the chance that you will move out from the good position into a bad position.

47. Get a firm mattress

The general rule of thumb – the firmer the mattress, the better. However… it MUST be comfortable.

48. Don’t cuddle whilst sleeping

Hey, I am all for hugs and kisses. BUT…  make sure that you aren’t in an awkward position when you do fall asleep!

49. Stretch before you sleep

When you are asleep, you are in the same general position for 7-8 hours which can cause stiffness in the body. To make sure your muscles are relaxed before sleeping, try incorporating some stretches.

50. Morning routine

Get into the habit of having a morning routine that involves exercises that encourage a healthy posture.

If you want to see what I personally do, check out this post: My morning routine.

 

 

// Driving/Public transport

pubtran

Image courtesy of Feelart at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


51. Sit for half the trip when taking public transport

You don’t have to stay seated the whole trip whilst travelling on a bus/train. These are the places where most people get lazy and start to slouch. Get up! Stand up for a bit.

52. Spread your shoulders

When there are a lot of people on the bus/train and it gets quite squashy, many people are forced to compress their posture to avoid rubbing shoulders with their fellow passenger.

Throw courtesy out of the window and spread those shoulders of yours as much as you can. Every man (…or woman) for them self!

53. Set up your car seat properly

Ensure that your car seat promotes your best possible posture.

Check out this post: 9 tips to improve your posture… whilst driving to find out how to correctly set up the seat in your car.

54. Stick to higher cars like 4WD, SUV etc

It is very difficult to sit with good posture in any car seat (especially lowered/sports cars). Higher cars tend to allow for a better sitting posture.

55. Use lumbar support

Most cars these days come with a built-in lumbar support into the car seat. Use it to support your lower back. If your car does not have one, consider using a small pillow or rolled up towel to the same effect.

56. Red light chin tucks

Every time you are stopped at a red traffic light, take this time to do some neck exercises. I am a big advocate of chin tucks.

57. Drive with your elbows close to  your body

elbow position in car

Do not flare your elbows out to the side whilst you are holding the steering wheel as this will cause your shoulders to slouch. Instead, aim to keep your elbows close to the sides of your body.

58. Take breaks on long car trips

It is difficult (… or border line impossible) to sit with good posture in car seats. If you are driving for long periods at a time, consider taking frequent stops to rest your muscles.

59. Tuck your butt right into the corner of the seat

Slide that bottom of yours all the way back into your car seat. This will help place your pelvis in the correct position.

60. Do the yawn stretch

yawn stretch

After you get out of the car, get in the habit of doing the “yawn stretch”. It will stretch out all those muscles that tend to get tight when you drive for a long period of time.

61. Recline your chair

If you are flying overseas and do not have the luxury of travelling first class, make sure that you recline your chair as far as it will go. Those airplane seats are far too small, uncomfortable and often cause bad sitting postures.

 

 

// Watching television

tv
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


62. Learn to squat

Not only is this a great exercise for legs, it encourages you to use your postural muscles too. The squat position is also my preferred position to watch television.

63. Avoid the soft couch

I have yet to sit on a couch that encourages good posture… And I don’t think I ever will. If you are watching TV on the couch, I would recommend lying down on it instead.

64. Stretch whilst watching television

If you can stretch and watch TV at the same time, why not do it? Kill 2 birds with 1 stone!

65. Go for a walk every advertisement

There are plenty of advertisements when watching your favourite television shows. This means there will be plenty of opportunities for you to get up and move your body.

66. Limit your time watching the TV

Do you really need to spend all that time in front of your television? Get out of the house! Move around. Go for a walk or something.

 

 

// When you have to look down a lot

reading

Image courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


67. Bring book to eye height

When reading, instead of looking down at the page, consider bringing your book to eye level.

68. Bring smart phone to eye height

As above.

69. Minimise tablet use

Don’t slouch over that tablet. I know you do it!

70. Look with your eyes

If bringing the book to eye level looks weird to you, consider glancing down with your eyes whilst keeping the head in a neutral position.

71. Alternate between looking down and eyes glancing down

If in doubt, you can always alternate between the head looking down and eyes glancing down position.

72. Eating

Bring your food up to your mouth. And not your mouth to your food. This might take a bit of practice. If possible – you could even hold your plate/bowl up towards your mouth.

73. Drinking

When you drink, maintain the upright posture. Don’t jut out your chin.

74. Break up house chores

Instead of powering through your house hold chores like mopping, doing the dishes, cleaning etc (which all require you to look down), try breaking them into parts so that you are not in the same position for too long.

 

 

// Devices


75. Postural taping

Applying posture tape to your back will help encourage maintaining the correct posture.

76. Get the Lumo app

The Lumo app involves clipping a small device onto your shirt which vibrates every time you start to slouch into bad posture.

77. Use postural braces

I would not recommend solely relying on postural braces as they tend to make your postural muscles weak and lazy. However… if you feel that you need a bit more assistance with your posture, I would advise you to use them in CONJUNCTION with corrective postural exercises.

78. Posture shirts

postureshirt

These posture shirts are specifically designed to help you keep an upright posture. As mentioned above, they work best when used in conjunction with corrective postural exercises.

 

 

// Fashion

Heels

Image courtesy of hyena reality at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


79. Adequate bra support

If you have extra weight at the front of your chest, it is likely that it will pull your posture forward and cause you to slouch.

Make sure that you have a sufficient amount of support in this department. Since I have no experience with bra fitting, I will leave you to figure that one out yourself.

80. DO NOT wear high heels

 

I’m pretty sure whoever coined the quote “beauty is pain” must have had bad posture. Wearing high heels alters the whole mechanics of your posture. Stick to flat shoes.

81. Avoid wearing tight fitting clothes

Wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move effortlessly and naturally. Skinny jeans… Are they still in fashion?

 

 

// Lifestyle

lifestyle
Image courtesy of arztsamui at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


82. Set yourself reminders

Place bright post-its (with different postural exercises written on them) on the walls around your house. Every time you see the post-it, let it serve as a reminder to do some exercises throughout the day.

83. Sort out any gut issues

What do you do when you have a stomach ache? You probably assume the foetal position. Any pain in the abdominal region will cause the body to hunch over to reduce the pain… at the expense of your posture.

84. Get an eye examination

If you are squinting all the time to see what is front of you, it’s likely that you are poking your head forward to see better. Consider visiting your optometrist.

85. Fix old injuries

You may have injuries that are hindering you from having good posture. Make sure that you address these problems.

86. Be more confident

Generally speaking, people who tend to be more confident are more likely to have a more up right posture. Next time you are walking, imagine you are someone with great power (a president, movie star, whoever!)

87. Reduce stress levels

Your postural muscles are also referred to as the stress muscle. These muscles tend to tense up with increased levels of stress and can affect your posture. Listen to some relaxing songs, meditate, talk to someone etc.

88. Take deep breaths in

It’s hard to take a deep breath in if you are slouching. Try it! Take relaxed and deep breaths regularly throughout the day. Use those lungs of yours to open up your chest.

89. Lose some weight

Excess weight on your body will place higher demands on your muscles and joints responsible for good posture. Consider reducing caloric intake and increasing exercise.

90. Be more active!

Bad posture comes from staying in the wrong position for too long! Your body is designed to move. Consider taking up swimming, going for walks and/or going to the gym.

91. Start swimming

More specifically, start doing the back stroke. This is the best swimming exercise for your posture.

92. Take up yoga

This type of exercise is specifically designed to help promote good posture. It consists of core exercise, stretches and whole lot of other great exercises that are especially beneficial for postural alignment.

93. Take up pilates

As above.

94. Go for a massage

What better way to get rid of your tight muscles than getting a nice massage. Make it a habit to see a massage therapist on a regular basis.

95. See a physiotherapist/chiropiractor regularly

These health professionals are specifically trained to optimise your body (including your posture). Go get assessed!

 

 

// The ‘DO NOT’ list

no

Image courtesy of scottchan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


96. DO NOT sleep on your stomach

xsleep

Not only will this jam up your neck joints, it will also cause you to have a sway back posture. (… and you wouldn’t want to have that!)

97. DO NOT carry your bag on one shoulder

Do you carry a laptop bag, purse or back pack over one shoulder? Uneven loads on your posture will eventually lead to an asymmetrical posture.

98. DO NOT cross your legs whilst sitting

Keep your feet flat on the ground. The aim is to keep the body as symmetrical as possible.

99. DO NOT over train the chest muscles

This one is probably for the gym junkies. Don’t be like those guys I see who only train the muscles that they can see in the mirror. When tight, these very same muscles are reponsible for bad posture too!

100. DO NOT be a mobile phone zombie

It is becoming the norm to see people hunched over their smart phones. I see it whilst people walking, crossing the road, on the train etc. Look around people! You are missing out on what’s happening around you!

101. DO NOT finish reading this post without taking at least 5 steps to improve your posture

If you have read this far, you now know at least 100 ways to improve your posture. However – reading alone is not going to fix your posture… Taking consistent action will!

 


**** Let’s spread the message! ****

Help a friend out. Share this post with someone you know who needs to improve their posture.

About

I am a physiotherapist who has personally experienced the pain as a result of bad posture. I would like to offer you some of the solutions that I and my patients have greatly benefited from.

View all posts by

4 thoughts on “101 tips to improve your posture

  1. Your website is amazing! I love how you not only share a wealth of information through your detailed clear articles, but your exercises and the descriptions /pictures/videos accompanying them are detailed and understandable. Thank you!

    I don’t know if you can help me with my specific problem. I’ve been to a chiropractor, optometrist, neurologist and family doctor in the past week, and none of them have a clue what is causing my problem.

    A few weeks ago, my head started feeling heavy. Like someone was standing on it. And as I bend over, the further I bend the heavier it gets…like gravity is pulling it down. It has been debilitating. I can’t be up for long, as I need to sit down and rest. I am not able to do very many regular daily activities because of this.

    I just had an MRI of my head last month (checking for tumors, etc.) and they found none. It may help you to know that the last month I have spent lying down or sitting much of the days and evenings, because of other health issues which are now better. I wondered if my neck muscles have gotten weak from non- use. Also I had cat scan a week ago (abdominal issues) and they reported that I have a levoscholiatic curve in my spine. I am 68 and have had poor posture as long as I can remember. Do you have any idea what would cause my head to feel so heavy? I have no pain, dizziness or lightheartedness. This head problem has only been for the past 2 or 3 weeks. I woul be grateful for any help you can provide.

    1. Hey there Jonnie!

      If they have not found anything sinister that may be causing your symptoms, I would try to release your SUB-OCCIPITAL muscles.

      Check it out here:

      Place the ball under your head as to press into the areas underneath the base of the skull.
      Practice rotating your head from side to side to emphasise certain areas.
      Generally speaking, if it hurts, you are on the right area.
      Aim to get a solid 5 minutes of this.
      Do both sides.

      These muscles in particular can cause a sense of heaviness in the head.

      Since you have been on bed rest for a prolonged amount of time, you may have some de-conditioning of the muscles that are responsible for keeping your head up right.

      You can check out my neck strengthening guide here.

      Mark

  2. Hi Mark,

    Just stumbled across your website and am going to start using your great easy-to-follow steps for back pain! 😊

    A different issue that I can’t budge is the fact that I have developed RSI in my wrists and fingers from typing my dissertation in a tight period (ikr). I rested them over the university summer break but now that I’m typing again at work, they can really hurt.

    I’ve got myself the right tech to prevent further damage (ergonomic keyboard and mousepad) and try to use a stress ball to gently move my hand muscles. What else would you suggest doing?? They just feel really weak and flimsy!

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hey Ollie,

      The main thing with typing is taking regular breaks.

      The second most important thing is making sure you are typing with neutral wrists (see below).

      If there has been some sort of damage to your structures in wrists, try doing these 3 things to help speed up your recovery and prevent it from coming back.

      1. Release all the tendons/muscles in your wrist/forearm.
      – Since your pain is more in the wrist and fingers, try to extend the releases to these areas as well. But do the whole fore arm! (it’s all connected)

      2. Stretches:

      – Hold for at least 30 seconds. 5-7 times a day minimum

      3. Strengthening:
      I’ve written a post specifically for Elbow tendonitis, but most (if not all) exercises can be used for wrist tendonitis as well. Have a look at this post here.

      Persist with these for a good couple of weeks. Let me know how it goes mate!

      Mark

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *