All throughout the day, there are certain things I try to keep at the top of my mind for the sake of my health: Drink water, have good posture, and take breaks to look at photos of my puppy. All equally important. But the one I consistently have trouble doing is… not sitting or walking around as if I’m Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh. (He’s a big-time sloucher, in case you forgot.)
Besides putting a Post-it note in front of my face reminding me to put my shoulders back and my chin up, I’m looking for some legit advice on making sure I am a properly upright being. So I went straight to the source: a chiropractor, aka the guy who deals with the fallout of having bad posture way too often. We could all use these tips, because our spine goes through the ringer thanks to sitting at a desk all day. Keep scrolling for the three worst things you can do for your posture, according to a chiropractor.
1. Stare at screens
Chances are you’ve heard of “tech neck,” because it’s essentially an epidemic these days—just count how many people you almost run into on the street because they’re staring down at their phones. “Most people who spend 10 hours a day on their computer at work do it again as soon as they get home—very few people shut it off,” says says Jay Heller, DC, a New York based chiropractor. “So too much time on screen is not good for your posture, largely because even if you have an ergonomic set-up in the office, you don’t have one at home.” Considering the variety of slouchy positions I get in on the couch or in bed to look at my laptop or my phone, he’s right.
2. Sit for too long
Being sedentary is bad, of course, but sitting for long periods of time (like most people do at work) is wreaking havoc on your posture. “The worst thing for the human spine is the effects of gravity upon it, and we have to be anti-gravity as much as possible,” says Dr. Heller. “So sitting too long really accentuates the affects of gravity and everything is pushed down, and it all gets pushed down into the low back.” Since most of us are going to keep sitting though, at least while in the office, he has a pro tip: Get up three minutes per hour (or one minute every 20 minutes) and take a little stroll around your office. “You’ll be doing yourself a world of good,” says Dr. Heller.
3. Wear the wrong shoes
Sorry, stiletto enthusiasts, but high heels are not good for your posture. “They’re not really good for your back,” says Dr. Heller. “Spiked heels change your center of gravity and puts extra pressure on the low back. The more support, the better.” He does note that some higher shoes can be better, just make sure your ankle isn’t rolling side to side as you walk. “Anything higher than two inches and anything that has a stiletto or a spike really just accentuates poor posture,” he says. Sneakers 24/7 it is.
Some good things you can do for the sake of your spinal slouch? These resistance band exercises for better posture. Or you can try this posture trainer device which is pretty great.
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