How Do You Improve Bad Posture From Sitting?



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Answer by Shefaly Yogendra, deep interest in health and wellness, prevention, health policy, health economics:

What has taken some years to embed itself will also take a while to correct itself. With that caveat, here are some useful things you can do regularly to help improve bad posture, and it may help you, as it has helped me.

Correct the rounded shoulders. Stand tall on flat surface, pulling yourself up as straight as you can. Lift both shoulders as if pulling them toward the ears, then pull them back as if describing a small circle with the shoulders as you move. You will feel a stretch in the front of your chest, below the clavicle, and around the shoulder blades. You will also experience a contraction between your shoulder blades.

A physiotherapist friend of mine recommends several sets of two dozen such shoulder movements in a day, while both my yoga and Pilates teachers consider that excessive. My own experience is that it is best to do a few, perhaps six to 10 of these every few hours, especially as a break from sitting.

Yoga also has several poses that help with shoulder and upper back area. I would recommend you seek to learn to do these correctly with a yoga teacher for a bit, but this is very helpful.

Correct the spine. Pilates uses the concept of “neutral spine,” which is best understood as the position where your spine is not overly straightened and not overly arched. It helps to be conscious and aware of where one’s spine is when standing or sitting. Holding one’s abs tightly together—it helps to visualize as if ribs are hugging your torso—helps not slack the lower back. Also helpful is attempting to keep one’s head straight on the spine where it helps me to visualize a meat hook atop my head and a pile of books I must not drop sitting on top of my head. A good test is not to let the neck become like a vulture’s. The key here is to hold the neck such that there is no crease in it at the back.

In Vinyasa (flow) yoga, we spend some time working on a flow of two poses, the cat (with a flexed back) and the cow (with a rounded back). To do these one positions oneself on all fours, palms directly below shoulders, and knees describing a 90-degree angle with the hips and legs flat with front of feet flat on the floor.

It goes without saying that before you start anything drastic, you must consult a doctor. I would also strongly suggest you practice these things in the supervision of qualified teachers of yoga and Pilates.

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