You don’t have to look far these days to see bad posture. It’s an epidemic. I bet if you’re reading this in a public place, all you need to do is look up and you’ll see it everywhere. You’ll see heads forward with shoulders rounded all around.
See the exaggerated image below. The neck is forward, the shoulders are rounded and the upper back is hunched over. It’s not a pretty picture. Left unchecked, this poor posture can have disastrous effects down the line. Forget about surfing well. You’ll have problems grabbing your coffee mug from the top shelf because you won’t be able to lift your arm above your head.
I spent six years and ten hours a day sitting in an office, crunched over a keyboard while staring at a computer. Do you know what happened to my posture in those six years? It went to complete shit. At one of my annual check ups my doctor told me I was a full half inch shorter.
This was a major turning point for me as I realized how much of my health was being compromised simply by sitting. I had to do something about it. First, I worked to understand what was going on.
Because of that prolonged time sitting in a forward hunched position, I was starting to develop a kyphotic spine. This rounding of my upper back created serious muscle imbalances throughout my upper body. My chest muscles were short and tight and my spinal erectors (small muscles along either side of my spine) were constantly on tension. As you can see in that above image, the image on the right stands a few inches shorter. This explained my half inch of shrinking at the age of 30. I needed to do something to counterbalance this bad posture.
Over the last few years, I’ve discovered a three step process that has helped me improve my bad posture. It’s helped hundreds of other clients as well who struggle with this same problem. I still sit for many hours a day writing articles like this one or putting together programs for clients, but now I understand what’s going on and I actively do exercises that help offset some of that damage.
Here is the 3-step approach I’ve found to work the best.
1. Practice standing up straight
It seems so simple, but it works really well. Think about keeping your chest up and your shoulders back as you walk. Bring awareness to the way you walk around. According to Amy Cuddy, a Harvard Psychologist, it might even give you more confidence.
2. Do The Dead Bug Exercise
This exercise will help restore proper posture by getting extension through that upper back. This one looks very easy but it’s quite challenging. Keep your lower back pushed into the ground, ribs down, and touch the back of the hands to the ground behind your head.
3. Tape your upper back
This one sounds silly but it works. Have someone tape your spine from the mid-neck to the top of the scapula. Every time you drop your head into that bad posture position, you’ll feel a little tug on the tape. This little feedback will consistently remind you to stay in that good upright position.
Try this 3-step process out for yourself and let me know how it goes.
Editor’s Note: Learn more about the author’s Leaner & Stronger In 30 Days Program starting in January.