A Posture Coach's Best Tips For Healthier Movements Throughout The Day

Good posture is important for both your appearance and your well-being. When your body is balanced and you're physically centered, you stand straighter and taller and feel more confident about yourself. An incorrect posture can result in back pain, reduced lung capacity, headaches and neck pain, greater risks of injury, and change of spine shape. Whether we realize it or not, many of us are taking the health of our spine lightly. To have good posture, you should always make a conscious effort to ensure that your body is symmetrically positioned, especially when sitting, standing, and lying down. 


Many people are born with good posture, but lifestyle habits can cause their posture to alter over time. For instance, slouching or slumping while working in front of a computer, carrying a heavy object on a single shoulder, or looking down at your phone for an extended period of time are several habits that could take a toll on your posture in the long run. The good news is, it's not too late to save your posture. To help you improve your posture, Glam spoke exclusively to Charlotte Reardon, a posture coach and professional dancer, for more insights. She shared some simple tips that encourage enhanced awareness of your body and a better posture in the long run. 

Ditch shoulder bags for backpacks

According to Charlotte Reardon, wearing a backpack with straps going on both shoulders instead of a one-strapped bag is a good way to keep your back, neck, and shoulders in alignment. "Ditch your shoulder bags for a backpack because it distributes the weight to carry evenly throughout your shoulders," Reardon exclusively tells Glam. Your spine is in a balanced position when the weight of your backpack is distributed evenly over your back rather than on just one side.


However, keep in mind that carrying too much weight in your backpack can potentially lead to posture issues. When you're carrying or lifting a load that's too heavy, you're putting strenuous pressure on the disc in your lower back, which will strain your back and hips and even cause injury. One solution is to buy a backpack with wider straps to allow for more efficient weight distribution over your back. Narrow straps concentrate the weight on a narrow area of your shoulder, which is not good.

If you must carry a shoulder bag, alternate shoulders from time to time so that no one shoulder has to compromise to make up for the weight of the bag. Although this behavior adjustment may seem inconsequential, it will have a tremendous impact on your posture in the long run.


Invest in headsets and hold your cell phones at eye level

Long-term use of smartphones is also associated with poor posture including a forward-facing neck, a slouched posture, or rounded shoulders. When your neck is always bending forward, it can affect your ligaments as well as your cervical and lumbar spine's structural integrity. Instead of gazing down at your phone while using it, hold it in front of your face at eye level, according to Charlotte Reardon. To train your spine to remain symmetrical when typing, use two hands and two thumbs as opposed to one. Additionally, while using a tablet or laptop, place it on an elevated display stand so it is horizontal with your eyes and provides a comfortable typing position.


Using a traditional phone handset for long hours also causes discomfort in the back and neck areas and leads to incorrect posture over time. "Stop holding your phone, especially using your shoulder to prop it up to your ear," Reardon exclusively advises Glam. When using a headset, the microphone can follow your head movements, allowing you to maintain your posture and preventing you from stooping over to answer or make calls.

Roll your head and neck often

Neck tension and pain is quite common, especially when you work in front of computers a lot. Taking short breaks to do neck and head rolls is one way to loosen up your neck muscles and reduce stiffness, Charlotte Reardon exclusively tells Glam. A head and neck roll is a great way to train the neck in basic movement patterns including flexion, extension, and rotation. A more flexible and neutrally positioned neck can enhance posture and reduce the risk of neck pain and injury. 


To perform a neck roll exercise, keep your head straight with your eyes forward. Then, gently tilt your head to the right and roll it back with your eyes skyward. Continue to tilt your head to the left, then downward, keeping your gaze on the ground. Now, slowly lift your head up to the beginning position and repeat the movement in the opposite direction. The key to doing the neck exercise safely is to be mindful of the way it feels during your movement. Extreme head and neck rolls can cause an injury, so adjust your movements as needed to make sure you're in a safe range of motion.

Practice good posture throughout the day

As you go about your day-to-day tasks, whether you're cooking, shopping, or watching TV, be mindful of maintaining an upright posture. "Look at yourself in the mirror and try to balance your posture correctly, every time you catch your reflection," Charlotte Reardon exclusively tells Glam.


For instance, while you're sitting, remember to keep your back straight, keep your shoulders down, and keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest. If your seat doesn't have a backrest, use a back pillow to support your lower back's curve and make yourself feel comfortable. While you're at your desk, avoid crossing your legs. It can cause an abnormal alignment of the spine and poor posture over time.

When standing, remember to stand straight and tall with your chin up, chest out, shoulders back, and stomach in. In an ideal posture, neither your hips nor your buttocks nor your hip bones should protrude, and your head, shoulders, hips, and knees should maintain a straight line. This habit is not easy to build at first, but with regular practice, you can make it stick and improve your posture.


Don't stay still for long

Whether you're at work or at home, Charlotte Reardon recommends taking short breaks and walking around to keep your muscles flexible. "Get up, get out more! Set alarms throughout the day that will make you stand up for as little as 30 seconds. When you're changing position the blood flow and circulation works better," Reardon exclusively advises Glam. Prolonged sitting can put a great deal of strain on the back, neck, arms, and legs in addition to your spinal discs and back muscles. It can also cause decreased muscle activity and the flattening of the lumbar-lordotic curve, a condition where the lower spine loses some of its natural inward curvature. 


That said, it's also important to be mindful of prolonged standing. Being on your feet for long hours can cause vein inflammation and blood flow obstruction, which can result in back pain and stiffness in the neck and shoulders.

No matter how comfortable you feel right where you are, maintaining a static posture for an extended period of time is not good for your spine and your posture. Moving around, flexing some muscles, and stretching your body frequently helps your muscles, joints, and tendons stay flexible throughout the day and promote a good posture.