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4 Strategies to Improve Your Posture

08/31/2015 12:58 EDT | Updated 08/31/2016 05:59 EDT
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Almost everyone I meet with expresses concerns about their posture. It makes total sense: we all sit way too much, and it is almost impossible to sit for long periods without becoming slightly rounded forward. I don't even have a desk job and I still spend way too much time hunched at my desk writing columns and doing office work!

Now, I get it -- for most of us some amount of sitting is a necessary evil, but that doesn't mean you can't take steps to mitigate the damages!

During your daily life:

1. Take the colour challenge.

2. Aim to take 10,000 steps per day.

At work:

1. Make a commitment to break up the time you spend sitting.

2. Challenge yourself to do one "posture perfect" exercise per hour.

During your daily life

1. Take the colour challenge.

Pick a colour to use as your "mindfulness trigger."

Your mission is to watch for your chosen colour throughout your day. When you notice it, take a moment to assess your posture. Check if your ears, shoulders and hips are stacked over top of each other. If your body is not aligned properly -- which is the case for most of us -- sit or stand up straight to draw your shoulders and head back.

2. Aim to work up to 10,000 steps per day. The more you move around the less time you will spend sitting!

Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to take 10,000 steps per day.

On day one, wear the pedometer but don't actively try to take more steps than usual. Record how many steps you take. Use that number as a baseline. Then gradually try and increase your step count until you make at least 10,000 steps a day.

Ways to weave motion into your day:

1. Walk with a friend at lunch or with your partner after work.

2. Get off one subway stop too soon and walk to your destination.

3. Set an alarm to go off once an hour that reminds you to get up and walk around. Get water or go for a stroll around the office.

4. Take the stairs.

5. Go for a walking talk with a co-worker instead of phoning or emailing them.

6. Get a dog and walk it daily.

At work

1. Make a commitment to break up the time you spend sitting.

At regular intervals get up, walk around, stretch and/or do work standing. As an added bonus, getting up and going for a walk will help you accumulate your steps! Move more and sit less!

For example, use a filling cabinet to set yourself up a make-shift standing desk, walk to speak with a colleague instead of phoning them, pace as you take phone calls or invest in a standing desk.

2. Challenge yourself to do one "posture perfect" exercise per hour.

No excuses! Set an alarm if you need to!

Posture perfect exercises

Wall push: Stand with your back against the wall. Knees slightly bent, arms straight and palms facing the wall. Pull your shoulders blades back, tuck your chin like you are trying to give yourself a double chin and simultaneously push into the wall with your hands. Hold for five seconds. Release and repeat ten times. Don't let your lower back arch as you pull your shoulders back into the wall.

Door frame chest stretch: Place the forearm of one arm on the edge of a door frame at roughly chest height. Your arm should be bent at a 90̊ angle. Turn your body gently away from the arm so you feel a slight stretch in your chest and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds. Switch and repeat on the opposite arm.

Seated twist: It is almost impossible to have good posture if you can't rotate properly. Extension of the spine (the ability to sit up straight) and rotation work together!

Sit tall in your chair. Reach your left hand across your body so it sits on the outside of your right knee. Use your left hand to pull GENTLY on your right knee so you rotate to the right. Hold for 15 seconds and then switch sides.

Seated core work: A strong core will help you maintain proper posture. Start by bringing your bum close to the edge of your chair. Keep your back straight and lean roughly 10 degrees backwards. Hold for 10 seconds to a minute.

Upper back massage with a tennis ball: All you need is a tennis ball and wall space.

Stand with your upper back against the ball and the ball against a wall. Press your body into the ball so you feel a gentle massage. Move your body up and down so that the ball massages your entire back. When you feel a tender spot, hold and breathe into it for 10 seconds. Enjoy!

Wall Y to W's: Stand with your bum and back against a wall. Core engaged, legs shoulder-width apart, knees slightly bent and feet roughly half a foot in front of the wall. Your lower back should be neutral, which means you should be able to fit your fingers, but not your entire hand, between your lower spine and the wall.

Form a W with your arms against the wall. Keep your arms as close to the wall as you can as you straighten them until they form a Y with your body. Make sure your spine stays neutral. It shouldn't arch as you move your arms, even if that means the back of your hands move away from the wall. Return your arms back to the W position and repeat five to 10 times.

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