Places Pointer: How to improve posture

It's time to get things straight!

Many of us tend to overlook our posture, but it’s an important aspect of our health and wellbeing. Who would have thought how we sit, stand, and move could make such a big impact?

There are a number of factors that can get in the way of good posture, from sitting at a desk all day, looking down at a smartphone too often, or wearing the wrong shoes. Some researchers are even looking into whether posture affects mood, sleep, and jaw alignment too.

Fortunately, improving your posture is often a matter of strengthening your muscles and changing some of your everyday activities or habits!

Jump to: What causes posture problems

What is posture?

Posture refers to the natural way you hold your body, whether you’re sitting down, standing, or moving.

Your posture is primarily maintained by the muscles, ligaments, and tendons – your musculoskeletal system - throughout your body. This system works hard to control your position and adjust your body to hold you in a comfortable shape.

There’s no one-size-fits-all, “perfect” posture, as everybody is different. It’s all about doing what you can and getting the guidance you need to best support your musculoskeletal system and correct your posture.

What causes posture problems?

Poor posture can stem from our everyday habits like carrying heavy objects or working in front of a computer. These activities often make us stoop or bring our head and shoulders forward, which overstretches the muscles in the back of our shoulders.

The core muscles in your back and abdomen are crucial to lifting your frame and keeping you upright, so if they have grown weaker from being less active, this can cause you to lean forward more than you should.

Signs of poor posture

Poor posture can lead to a variety of symptoms, especially if you spend many hours during the day in one position. Some common signs are:

  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Limited flexibility
  • Reduced range of motion (how far or comfortable you are able to move)
  • Difficulties with balance

How to improve posture

One of the first things you can do is to be more aware of the everyday habits that may be affecting your posture.

Here are some things to consider:

The set-up of your work station, either at work or at home – discomfort shouldn’t come as part of the job!

The chairs you use and the way you sit in them – do your chairs support your spine adequately and help you maintain good posture? If you’re a wheelchair user, be sure to ask for an assessment to help identify the right type of wheelchair for you, the height, depth, and width of your wheelchair will impact your posture.

The position in which you look at your smartphone – do you have text neck?

The mattress you sleep on – does it promote better spinal alignment?

Breathing more deeply – quick, shallow breaths can create tension in the upper body that can affect our posture.

Stretching – this can help to strengthen the muscle groups (such as your core muscles) that help you stand or sit properly.

If you’re looking to use physical fitness to improve your posture, one of our personal trainers or a member of our fitness team at your centre will be happy to give you some guidance on what steps to take.

If workout classes are more your thing, why not try one of our Pilates, yoga, or Body Balance classes which provide strength and postural benefits?

If your posture is becoming noticeably problematic and painful, consider visiting a doctor or a physical therapist to see what could be causing the problem and how it can be treated.

Being more mindful of your posture is essential for maintaining and improving our everyday movement, it’s not too late to improve it. Whether you’re at work or at home, make sure to get away from your desk or sofa for a couple of minutes every hour to move or stretch. Remember – no slouching!


Sources: Effect of an exercise program for posture correction on musculoskeletal pain (National Library of Medicine) | How to improve your posture (British Heart Foundation) | 3 surprising risks of posture (Harvard Health Publishing) | Do you have text neck? How phones are affecting us physically (The Guardian) | Breathe Deeper to Improve Health and Posture (healthline) | The 4 Main Types of Posture (healthline) | Is it too late to save your posture? (Harvard Health Publishing)