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Pay attention to your posture

A woman leans back in a chair, a laptop on her lap and a phone in her hand.

 

March 31, 2022—Back pain is common, and it can make it hard to live your life your way. There's no surefire way to prevent back problems, but this everyday habit just might help you avoid them down the line: Practice good posture.

Good posture has a lot to do with proper alignment of your spine. According to the American Chiropractic Association, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other experts, good posture can help you:

  • Reduce wear and tear on your joints.
  • Use your muscles more efficiently.
  • Avoid stressing the ligaments of your spine.

It's not too late to improve your posture

As you age, poor posture can hurt your balance and flexibility. That can make it harder to handle daily tasks. And it can increase your risk of a fall.

But even if poor posture has become a habit, you can still make a change. And you won't have to balance a dictionary on your head. There are many ways to improve your posture. To get started:

Stand tall. When standing, keep your shoulders back and your weight mostly on the balls of your feet. Try to keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Let your arms hang naturally at your sides.

Hold your head high. Remind yourself not to hunch forward. Instead, keep your earlobes aligned with your shoulders.

Sit up straight. Keep your back against the back of your chair Don't cross your legs. Instead, keep your feet flat on the floor or footrest, with your ankles slightly in front of your knees. If possible, keep your knees slightly higher than your hips.

Check in with yourself. Think about how you're holding your body in everyday activities at home and at work. Sometimes we don't even realize when we're slouching or tensing up.

Make a move. Don't stay in the same sitting or standing position for long periods. Take breaks to stretch and walk around.

Change your shoes. If your heels are high, they may hurt your posture. Lower heels—at least for everyday use—may be easier on your body.

Exercise often. Exercise can help strengthen the muscles that support your body. And it may help you manage your weight too.

Watch your back

Improving your posture can help you look and feel good—and it may help you avoid back pain in the future. But you don't have to stop there. You can learn about more ways to prevent back pain with this infographic.

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