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Practicing Better Posture

Good posture improves your appearance and reduces stress on muscles, joints and ligaments. So, you’re less likely to have strains and pain, especially in your neck and lower back.  

The human back has three natural curves, according to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA). Keeping your ears, shoulders and hips lined up maintains the “S” shape, which is the goal of good posture.  

Your posture may improve with practice:

  • Stand tall. Keep your chin parallel to the ground. Don’t round your shoulders or throw them back. Avoid locking your knees and pointing your toes in or out.  

  • Stretch. Sitting for most of the day may shorten leg muscles over time. This may affect your posture. Taking stretch breaks can help you stay limber. 

Stretches for good posture

  • Hip and groin stretch. Sit on the floor with the soles of your feet touching each other.  

  • Hamstring stretch. While standing on one foot, put your other heel on a low stool. Then, lean over as if to touch your chest to your knee. Repeat with the other leg. 

  • Calf stretch. Stand with the balls of your feet on the edge of a step. Let your heels fall below it for five to 10 seconds.  

Sit with support

Try these tips from the APTA:

  • Use a chair with lumbar support, or put a cushion or rolled-up towel behind the small of your back.

  • Two inches of air should be between the seat and the backs of your knees.

  • Keep feet flat on the floor with your knees a bit higher than your hips. 

  • Pull your seat in so that you don’t have to lean forward. 

Strengthen muscles

Many people with poor posture have weak lower abdominal muscles. To make them stronger, stand up and clasp your hands on your lower abdomen. Then, pull your abs up and in, away from your hands. Hold this position for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat up to five times.   

Choose sensible shoes

Wear good fitting shoes. Don’t wear high heels or platforms for long, if at all. Stick with heels that are no more than one inch high.