Good posture has so many important benefits. It’s not only better for your spinal health, it radiates confidence and power, and has been proven to improve the success of negotiations.
If you have a desk job, sitting in a chair for 8 hours leaves almost everyone slumping at 5pm. Then you’re expected to stand elegantly at after-work drinks or walk home, ridden with fatigue.
You can have better posture in just one week though. It all comes down to spinal stability and your core. As a Physio, I’ve had so many patients ask me how to get good posture, so I devised 4 simple steps:
4 ways to get perfect posture
Draw your chin back
A pointed chin brings your neck forward, pulling on the muscles of the neck and shoulders. To compensate for the forward weight shift, your upper back slouches into a kyphosis when you sit. When you’re standing, the effects travel down to your pelvis, and your lower back sways to counterbalance the forward weight shift in your head.
- Sit or stand tall with your hands together as though you’re praying.
- Let your fingertips lightly tough the bottom of your chin
- Without lifting your chin off your fingertips, draw your chin back into yourself as through you’re making a double chin.
- Relax a little (because that’s not a good look) and find a point where you’re about to make a double chin but are just a millimetre off- that’s where you want your neck to be.
2. Draw your shoulder blades down and back
The old ‘shoulders back’ mantra doesn’t work - so focus on drawing your shoulder blades gently down and back. The muscles that do this are slow twitch, meaning you only need to slowly and gently activate them, not pull them quickly like you would for a bicep curl.
- Sitting or standing, gently imagine you’re gripping an orange between your shoulder blades in the middle of your back - this is where you want your shoulder blades to sit.
- This movement is the same as the end of an upright row you might do at the gym
*If you get a burning pain in your mid back at work, try drawing your shoulder blades down and back, hold for 5 seconds, and relax. Repeat this 10 times every time you check your Instagram and your postural muscles will get stronger and your pain will disappear!
3. Lower your ribcage
Puffing up your rib cage puts pressure on your mid back where your ribs join your spine, plus it looks pretty awkward. By lowering the rib cage flush against your tummy, your spine will be in a better position, and you’ll be sitting or standing taller.
- Sitting or standing, place your hand on your ribs, just underneath the underwire of your bra
- Add gentle pressure through your palm and feel your rib cage gently soften into your torso - this is the ideal position for your ribcage
4. Tuck your tailbone
We’re all guilty of letting our back sway when we sit or stand, but this position can lead to lower back pain. When you gently tuck your tailbone under by using your deep abdominals, your spine sits in a nice, neutral position without stressing your lower back vertebrae and nerves.
- Sitting or standing tall, place one hand in the small of your back and one hand on your lower abs
- Now imagine a skewer through your pelvis - you’re going to rotate around the skewer
- Gently push with both hands, feel your lower abs tighten, and the sway in your back diminish
Common Questions about Posture
1. Should I sit on a swiss ball at my desk?
You can, but you can still have poor posture on these balls. Plus, when you’re tired there’s no support for your spine. If you really want to use one, I suggest alternating between a good, supportive desk chair and a fit ball every hour or two. Ditch the swiss ball around the 3pm slump.
2. Are heels bad for my posture?
No, but they can increase the sway in your lower back putting pressure on your spine if your core isn’t strong enough. If you can hold position 4 of the posture tips, you’ll be fine!
3. How should I sit at my desk?
A good desk chair is designed to support your spine. Sit with you butt all the way back in the chair, sit up tall so your entire spine is resting on the back rest, and push your chair in all the way under your desk until you’re comfortable. Sitting forward in a chair, or far away from your desk encourages bad posture and leads to back pain.
4. What’s the best workout to improve my posture?
Pilates, Barre and dance will help your posture improve. They emphasise good spinal stability and elongation of the spine, so you’ll be standing taller in no time.
Next time you're sitting at your desk, try these 4 postural tips to radiate more confidence and protect your spine. Good luck!
“A good stance and posture reflect a proper state of mind.” - Morihei Ueshiba