The term posture describes the position of a person's body when standing, sitting, or lying down.

Good posture can boost more than a person's self-confidence. It also offers long term health benefits, such as:

  • reduced back pain
  • decreased risk of injury
  • reduced stress on the muscles and joints
  • improved circulation, digestion, respiration, and flexibility

As people start improving their posture, they may gain a greater awareness of their body. A person may begin noticing when their muscles feel tense and become more attuned to misalignments in various areas.

Over time, the body will learn to correct bad posture naturally.

In this article, we discuss effective exercises and other tips for better posture.

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Good posture may help reduce back pain and stress on the muscles.

The following guidelines describe good posture when standing, sitting, and lying down:

Standing

  • Stand with your feet flat on the floor, shoulder width apart.
  • Stand tall, as if a string is pulling upward from your head, and let your arms relax by your sides.
  • Pull your belly button gently toward your spine.
  • Keep your chin parallel with the floor.

Sitting at a desk or table

  • Sit with your back straight and shoulders back.
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor. Do not cross your legs or ankles.
  • Rest your forearms on the table while keeping your shoulders back.
  • Your chin should be parallel to the floor, and your ears should align with your collar bone.

Lying down

People can have good posture while lying on their back or side. Make sure to keep the spine aligned and avoid twisting at the waist. Placing a pillow underneath or between the legs can help relieve back pain.

People should avoid sleeping on their stomachs because this position forces the neck to twist, putting excessive stress on the neck, shoulders, and back.

Maintaining proper posture requires adequate muscle strength, joint motion, and balance, according to the American Chiropractic Association.

The following exercises focus on increasing muscle strength and flexibility for better posture.

Bridges

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Bridges help strengthen the gluteal and abdominal muscles, which helps relieve excess stress in the lower back.

To do a bridge:

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor.
  • Lift your hips by engaging your core and buttocks muscles. The buttocks and lower back should raise off the ground.
  • Gently lower back down to the starting position.

Plank

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Plank Pose helps improve posture by strengthening muscles in the shoulders and back as well as the core, glutes, and hamstrings. It also encourages proper alignment of the spine.

To plank:

  • Get down onto your hands and knees. Make sure that your hands align with your shoulders and your knees align with your hips.
  • Come onto the balls of the feet by lifting your heels and straightening your legs. The body should form a straight line.
  • Keep your chest open and shoulders back.
  • Hold this position for 30–60 seconds.

Hip flexor stretch

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This stretch gently opens the hips and improves balance and coordination, which can help improve posture.

To do a hip flexor stretch:

  • Kneel with your right knee on the ground.
  • Place your left foot in front and bend your knee at a 90-degree angle.
  • Keep your back straight, chest forward, and head upright.
  • Place both hands on your left thigh.
  • Gently press your hips forward and hold the position for 20­–30 seconds.
  • Repeat this stretch on the right side.

Mountain Pose

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Tadasana, or Mountain Pose, is a simple yoga position that can help improve posture. Mountain Pose focuses on upright body alignment, and it incorporates several aspects of good posture.

To do Mountain Pose:

  • Stand upright with the feet hip width apart.
  • Make sure to spread your weight evenly through both feet. Try gently rocking forward and backward to feel how variations in weight distribution affect posture.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees, squeeze your thighs, and tilt your tailbone down.
  • Drop your shoulders down and back, so your chest comes forward
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed and allow your arms to fall to the sides of the body with your palms facing forward.
  • Inhale and exhale slowly for a few breaths.

Child's Pose

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This yoga pose lengthens the lower back and opens the hips. People can use Child's Pose as a resting position during yoga or other forms of exercise or as part of their regular stretching routine.

To do Child's Pose:

  • Get down onto your hands and knees.
  • Gently lean your body backward, keeping your hands in the same position.
  • Continue leaning back until your forehead touches the floor.
  • Your arms should make a straight line and your buttocks should rest on your heels.
  • Keep your arms straight and shoulders relaxed.

Placing a mat or towel on the floor can make this pose more comfortable.

Around 1 in 4 adults in the United States sits for more than 8 hours a day, according to a 2018 study. People who sit for long periods tend to slouch in their chairs.

Slouching happens when the shoulders drop in front of the chest and the head tilts forward. This posture puts an extreme curve in the spine, placing stress on the neck and constricting the lungs. People may also appear smaller if they slouch while standing.

A person can correct their posture by pulling their shoulders back and keeping their head upright, in line with their spine.

Sitting for many hours may be unavoidable, but a person can maintain good posture. Here are a few ways to improve posture while seated:

  • Switch sitting positions often.
  • Avoid crossing your legs or ankles.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed by resting your forearms and elbows on a desk or table.
  • Avoid twisting at the waist, turn the whole body instead.
  • Stand up frequently.
  • Take short walks.

Also, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommend the following general tips for improving posture:

  • Be aware of posture during everyday activities, such as walking, watching television, and doing chores.
  • Stay active by taking part in regular exercise, involving cardio, strength training, or stretching.
  • Maintain a healthy weight, as extra weight can weaken the abdominal muscles and put stress on the joints and ligaments.
  • Wear comfortable, low heeled shoes that have arch support. High heeled shoes alter a person's center of gravity, which can put more stress on the muscles and joints, especially in the knees.
  • Position desks and tables at the correct height if using them for working or eating.

The term "posture" describes the position of the body when standing, sitting, and lying down. Slouching and hunching forward can lead to poor posture, which may cause joint and muscle pain.

General tips for good posture include:

  • keeping your shoulders back and chest forward
  • holding your head upright, in line with your spine
  • avoiding twisting at the waist
  • keeping the body's weight distributed evenly among both feet and hips

Having good posture can improve self-confidence and may provide several health benefits, such as:

  • reduced back pain
  • decreased risk of injury
  • lower stress on the muscles and joints
  • improved circulation, digestion, respiration, and flexibility

People can use the stretches and exercises in this article to improve their posture.