How to Improve Your Posture in 4 Weeks

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You’ve probably been told from an early age to stop slouching and maintain good posture. Many people go through life thinking this is good manners, and dismiss it as unimportant.

The fact is your posture can have an impact on both your physical and mental health over time. Chiropractors and other health professionals have been studying posture for years and found that people who tend to slump when they’re sitting, standing or walking can experience health problems ranging from negligible to severe.

Minor issues that many people deal with such as headaches, back stiffness, and infections are results of the positioning of the spinal column. Whether you’ve been experiencing discomfort from bad posture or you’re looking to prevent it, here’s a guide to improving your posture in just four weeks.

First, Get the Right Tools

While it’s possible to improve your posture through good sitting and standing habits, since many of us have poor postural awareness, it’s important to utilize the right products. The most effective products are posture correctors. These are wearables that fine-tune your body’s alignment as you go through day-to-day activities. While using such a brace, you’ll train both your musculature and your mind, and guide yourself to better default posture.

There are several brands of posture braces on the market, and as long as they’re proven to work, the one you choose is largely down to personal preference. If you feel lost as to which brace to choose, we recommend the Bax-U brace. The Bax-U is designed to keep your spinal alignment correct and avoids the strain and compression under your arms that most braces have. Being comfortable is one attractive feature of the Bax-U. It’s made to be soft on the skin and with quality materials that avoid rashes. It can be worn discreetly under clothing. A Doctor of Chiropractic designed it. The Bax-U is flexible, allowing better freedom of arm and shoulder movements than many other products on the market.

By slowly tightening a good posture corrector brace over the course of four weeks – starting loose and gradually building towards maximum tightness at the end of the month – you’ll ensure that you can achieve a healthy posture in as little time as possible. If you don’t like the idea of wearing one of these around the clock – don’t worry! Posture corrector braces like the Bax-U only need to be used for one to two hours per day, which you can spread out over 15-minute to 30-minute windows. As long as you’re consistent, using a posture corrector brace can be your ticket to achieving better posture fast.

Week 1 Focus: Strengthening Your Core

Perfect posture starts with a strong core, including your abdominal muscles; the rectus, the muscles that form a person’s six-pack, and deeper transverse abdominals underneath them. When you’ve got a strong core, you’ll not only keep your back in a healthy condition and resistant to aches and injuries, but also hold your body upright naturally, improve your balance, and allow you to move your body with excellent control and efficiency. On the other hand, if your core muscles are weak, other muscle groups will have to compensate for it, which can lead to a loss of motion, general weakness, and aches and pains. Regular core training will help you both alleviate and prevent core lower back pain.

Here are a few exercises you can use to strengthen your core. Discuss these more with your trainer or an exercise specialist.

– Basic crunches and other variations of the crunch

Standing side bends

Plank holds

Back extensions

Week 2 Focus: Shoulders

Although rounded shoulders are common, they’re a postural abnormality, often brought on by spending hours hunched over a computer desk, driving, watching TV, and bending down while performing manual tasks. When you’re in forward-leaning positions, your shoulder, chest, and hip muscles can all become shortened and tight, all the while weakening the muscles of your upper and middle back. By working on weak upper back muscles, and stretching out the muscles in your chest, shoulders, hips, and lats, your posture will naturally begin to improve. As the upper back becomes stronger, the chest is more flexible, and the shoulders straighten.

Here are some exercises you can use to strengthen your upper back:

Reverse dumbbell flies

Rows with a resistance band

And some posture stretches for your chest:

– Standing chest stretches

– Torso stretches

– Standing quad stretches

Week 3 Focus: Hips

When you’re looking side-on in a mirror, your hips should be straight and level. Many people have hips that tilt, which may feel natural, but is, in fact, an abnormality known as forwarding pelvic tilt. Lordosis, also called “swayback,” is the opposite problem, typically caused by weakness in the hamstrings, glutes, and abs, along with tightness in the hip flexors and thighs. If you’re not sure whether you have pelvic tilt, just look at your belt line. When you’re wearing your typical pants and a belt, your belt should be perfectly level, or pretty close, all the way around your waist. If your belt line appears higher on your back and lowers on the front, then you need to work on your hamstrings, glutes, and abs.

Here are a few suggested exercises for strengthening your glutes and hamstrings:

Leg curls with a ball

Single leg hamstring flexing with a ball

And here are some for stretching tightened hip and quad muscles:

– Standing quad stretch

– Kneeling quad and hip stretch

Week 4 Focus: Head

Think about the last time you drove a car, and how often your head was touching the headrest. More often than not, people slouch forward, and duck to see traffic lights and signs. When it comes to good posture, many people worry about the back and shoulders. In fact, the way you carry your head and neck are just as important. When looking side-on in a mirror, your ears should be directly above your shoulders. Unfortunately, most people’s heads (and in turn, ears) sit slightly ahead of their shoulders. Again, the best way to remedy this is through exercise. By retracting the weaker and tight parts of the neck, your head will naturally center itself over the shoulders. This one touch to your posture can work wonders to prevent and decrease chronic neck pain.

There are two exercises to concentrate on for your head:

– Neck retraction exercise: elongating the back of your neck by pulling your chin straight in. Imagine you’re hiding behind a tree, and want to stop your head from sticking out past its edge. The highest point in your body should be your crown. Doing this a few times a day will help to counter our usual tendency to let our heads ride forward.

– Headrest exercises: the next time you’re driving, try to pull your chin in and press your head back into the headrest for around 4 to 6 seconds at a time. If you have a high-back office chair that you sit in regularly, you can use this as well.

And for stretching out stiff neck muscles:

Myofascial neck release with a foam roller

There you have our complete guide to improving your posture over the course of four weeks. You’re not going to see any major results overnight. However, if you can make time for these exercises, and drop any bad habits that you know you’ve been carrying, soon enough you’ll have a posture that will keep you feeling great!

About the Author Michelle Davis

I plan on testing every posture corrector you can buy including braces, posture solutions at a computer, posture chairs, and smart posture devices. I blog about the products here. Drop me a line anytime for questions and I'll try to help!

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