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how to improve my terrible posture?

As I lost weight (I am now almost at my ideal.) I started to notice a lump on my spine. It gradually dawned on me that what I was seeing was the spinous processes of my vertebrae -- not because I am too thin, and not because I don't have good back muscles, but because I don't stand up straight! As soon as I straighten up, the lump disappears, and of course I look much better all-around!

I keep catching myself slumping over -- while at the computer, while driving, while eating, while standing -- and I straighten up, but 2 minutes later I catch myself slumping again. When I am exercising (dancing, riding, etc.) I have no problem maintaining good posture so i don't think it's a physical problem. How have other people dealt with this? Any ideas?


Sat. Oct 7, 1:21pm

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Best thing to do is some resistance training for your upper body and some ab exercises. Doesn't take much. A couple of dumb bells. They run about $1 per pound. You want to work your shoulders, back and chest. I started with 5 lbs. and worked up to 15 lbs. over time. Do bent-over rowing, shoulder presses, front, side and rear arm raises, (targets shoulders), bent over flys. There are lots of books and video on resistance training. Lighter weights and higher reps tone and lean and create muscle endurance, slower to increase in the weight of the dumbell. Sets of low reps, heavier weights will create muscle bulk and increase strength faster. Either way, tho, muscle takes up less space than fat, so you will see a change in inches rather than a change in the scale. So, don't just live by the scale. Do both measuring and weighing to chart progress.

Ab and waiste exercises work your body's core and are directly related to posture.

Anyway these exercises will greatly enhance your posture.

Also, stay conscious of standing and sitting properly. Avoid slouching. This will work the posture muscles as well and will become more natural and preferred to slouching over time.

Saturday, October 07, 2006, 1:51 PM

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just always always think: shoulders back, shoulders DOWN (I habitually kinda shrug mine up to make my self look taller- dumb idea...) chest out, and hips under shoulders. All about "linear alignment"... also, keep in mind anatomically correct posture has human palms forward, not backwards when standing. So when walking, at least, try and keep your palms at your side, or slightly forward.

Saturday, October 07, 2006, 1:58 PM

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Due to a back injury

and surgery, I have to really struggle with posture because my center of gravity has changed. Strength training helps, but what made the most improvement in the least amount of time (and I wasn't even looking to accomplish posture improvement) is swimming. If you can get into a pool for a few hours a week and really focus on how your back muscles feel as you do different strokes, you will see a big difference.

Saturday, October 07, 2006, 2:27 PM

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agree with Saturday, October 07, 2006, 2:27 PM

Swimming is a excellent source of exercise for resistance, flexabilitiy, and cardio exercise. Whether it is traditional swimming or water aerobics. The swimming strokes really work the upper-body and help posture. The water provides great resisitance.

Saturday, October 07, 2006, 7:17 PM

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just reading the subject of this post made me sit up straight! thanks!

Saturday, October 07, 2006, 8:23 PM

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Nada Chair. This is not spam. I actually use it.

I horseback ride and having naturally upright posture and a strong back is important. I also work all day at the computer, and it was starting to affect my riding because my shoulders were always slouching. My coworker let me borrow this crazy thing called a "Nada Chair." It is like this thing that straps on and really helps you sit up straight. I just now looked for the website - here is a link. I guess I'm glad my coworker is letting me borrow it because they are $40. But you can check it out, it has really helped me

Link

Sunday, October 08, 2006, 1:18 PM

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have you considered seeing a chiropractor?

Monday, October 09, 2006, 10:45 AM

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to the above posters about swimming: recreational lap swimming is very good for your back because it strengthens and stretches everything evenly. but i was a competitive swimmer for years and have horrid posture because of it. the reason is because you only use your rotator cuff in one direction over and over again, making the muscles around your shoulder girdle disproportionate.

i have the same posture problems as the OP. partially it's from swimming for years, partially from scoliosis, and but mostly from plain bad posture. here's what i do (recommended from a physical therapist):

1 - neck stretching exercises. to stretch the back of the neck, people are often tempted to look down. but that stretches the upper back, not the neck. to get the neck you have to tuck your chin and give yourself a double chin, hold it for 20 seconds, and repeat it all the time - i'm doing it right now as i write this. of course you also want to stretch in the other directions - side to side, looking over the shoulder, etc. but it's the first one that people often mess up.

2 - rhomboid strengthening. these are the muscles which draw your shoulder blades together in back (which swimmers severely neglect). the easiest way is to do rowing exercises. try one of those stretching bands, sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you and your feet flexed. draw the band around your feet, then pull back on it and squeeze your shoulder blades together as you pull. i guess you could use a towel instead. i hope that makes sense. it's tough to explain things online that are easy to demonstrate in person!

now, sit with your chin tucked and your shoulder blades drawn together and i bet it improves your posture!


Monday, October 09, 2006, 12:39 PM

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Hi, OP here-- thanks everyone for the info. and helpful ideas.

I do lift weights and I don't have a physical problem. I have a behavioral problem. If only there was some device I could stick to my upper back that would give me a little electrical shock at a certain (slumping) angle.

I also think I have a problem with my chair at work, which is too big for me; when my back is contacting the back of the chair, my knees are up over the edge of the seat and my feet are sticking out! :-)

Monday, October 09, 2006, 1:13 PM

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Yoga

Try yoga! It's worked great for me, and has so many other wonderful benefits. It helps strenghthen your core which helps you sit up straighter.

Monday, December 18, 2006, 8:07 PM

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I was just thinking it would be nice to have a computer program that would flash up on the screen every few minutes reminding me to sit up straight. But then I thought of a simple solution - just set it as a task in my calendar and when it comes up, "snooze" it for 5 minutes. If I keep hitting snooze, every time it appears, I'll remember to sit up straight!

This thread has come up and resurfaced every so often. Every time I see it, I realize that I'm currently slouching terribly. It's good to have a reminder!

Monday, December 18, 2006, 8:22 PM

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"and suck in your stomach, while you're at it!"

Tuesday, December 19, 2006, 9:50 AM

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By the way, you can get software for your computer that makes you do micropauses and pops up with stretches you can follow to improve your posture etc. I have it on my computer at home, its comes up all the time, and dang it - I can't remember the name of the software....but it should be easy enough to find on the net or by asking at your local computer shop...

And thanks for the thread - has made me sit up straight RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006, 12:06 PM

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How To Improve My Terrible Posture

I agree that posture can be incredibly important. I know what you mean when you say you'll try to sit up straight. The problem with sitting up straight is that it's hard to maintain that rigid posture. People end up slouching more than ever from the strain. There was a guy named F.M. Alexander who worked all this stuff out over 100 years ago. It's now called the Alexander Technique, and it saved me from my terrible posture and subsequent terrible neck pain. I now teach this Technique, and the results people get are amazing.
It's less to do with sitting up straight and more to do with lengthening.
Anyway, I write about this all the time, and if you have a minute, you could check out my site and video.

Best,
Mark Josefsberg

Link

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 6:19 AM

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I've been more aware of my posture when I do yoga and pilates.

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 9:26 AM

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The strengthening exercises are all good, as well as most everything else posted, but here's my fast, easy, dirty cheat:

I'm into steampunk fashion (think "neo-victorian") and this gives me the opportunity to wear unconventional clothing items. That said, there is _nothing_ easier for posture correction than a properly laced, well-boned corset. It simply does not permit slouching, and by standing up and sitting straight all day, you _will_ strengthen those muscles.

That said, don't think that you're going to get the same results with a "bedroom corset" or a fashion/over-blouse corset. They're poor knockoffs designed to do little more than combat muffin-topping. The dangers of corsetting? Overstated, for the most part. When done sensibly, traditional coresetting is perfectly safe and comfortable.

~Steampunk

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 12:31 PM

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I just put a task on Outlook to remind me to sit up straight - I'll keep snoozing it until it becomes a habit. Thanks for the great advice!!!!

rachspen

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 3:19 PM

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Yoga and pilates! Try either one or both. I'm surprised more people haven't mentioned it. I will check out Nada chair.

Thursday, February 19, 2009, 6:15 PM

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Try using a balance ball as your chair at a desk or in front of the tv, computer, whatevers. Its helped me not only sit up straight, but really tighten my abs!!! I also LOVE yoga.

Friday, February 20, 2009, 1:49 PM

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My posture has improved a lot since starting yoga

Friday, February 20, 2009, 6:05 PM

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