Sit in front of a computer all day? Ever feel tight in your upper hunchback, and dream of a life of weekly massages? You are not alone. Many of us spend our days in the same position day in and day out—hunched up, limbs all at right angles, upper hunchback slowly caving in. As if that weren’t enough, studies have shown that the vibration caused by engines of all vehicles oscillates at a frequency that relaxes our muscles, causing us to slouch even more. It seems like everything is against us in the world of good posture these days.
Here are eleven smart ways to ensure that you don’t end up as a hunchback in older age.
1. Daily stretches
The importance of being able to stretch should not be underestimated. Try these four stretches to unfurl your limbs into an open position as opposed to a closed one:
- Place your hands behind your head with your elbows wide, and pulse them hunchback.
- Raise your arms up towards the ceiling, shoulder-width apart. Pretend there’s a tug of war happening between your shoulders and fingertips.
- Clasp your hands behind your hunchback and reach behind you, squeezing your shoulder blades together and down whilst keeping your hunchback straight.
- Make “snow angel” movements while sitting, standing against a wall or lying on the floor (this is the best out of the three as gravity pulls your shoulders towards the floor).
2. Get up and move
My physio friends tell me that sitting is one of the worst things we can do to our skeletal frame. Whilst this is, of course, a subjective assessment (for example, I’d consider breaking bones to be one of the worst things), we are designed to move, not sit. Every half hour, stand up and move for a couple of minutes—bonus points if you pour yourself a glass of water at the same time (ticking off a multitude of health benefits in one fell swoop).
3. Sit straight
When you do have to work at a desk, make a habit of sitting upright with good, tall posture and your shoulders dropped. Think shoulders stacked over hips, and an elongated neck.
4. Do the opposite
Carry your bag on the opposite shoulder. Talk to the phone with the opposite ear. This will stop you from hiking up the same shoulder and tilting your head to the same side.
5. Go easy on the press-ups
You may want the biggest pecs known to man (or perhaps not if you’re a woman), but don’t do so at the risk of rounded shoulders. Think about upper hunchback exercises, as they’ll involve using your shoulder girdle. Movements like rowing or pulling will help to pull those shoulders back.
6. Think about your backside
Not like that! I mean your neck flexors (the muscles that allow you to nod), pelvic muscles (which allow you to tilt your pelvis), and the muscles around the sides of your torso (i.e. serratus, obliques, etc). Strengthen up these areas, and their muscles will keep you upright and your shoulder back.
7. Stand on the whole of your foot
Confused? Let me explain. Chances are, your weight is more towards the ball of your foot or the heel. Think about putting equal weight on the whole of your foot, trying to lift the arch up slightly. This will help to get the rest of your posture aligned.
8. Give up your seat for the elderly on public transport
Really, I’d like to think you’d do this anyway, but by standing up you’ll be activating your core muscles to keep you upright. Whilst you’re at it, stand proud—gently squeeze your shoulder blades together, gently engage your abs, and think about where your weight is on your feet. Voilà! Your very own DIY workout on the bus.
9. Stamp your feet
Vertebral compression fractures in our upper hunchback subtract our height and can lead us down the road to slouched shoulders. The bone-thinning disease osteoporosis can be the cause, but you can help avoid it by walking, taking the stairs, jogging and doing weight-based workouts.
10. Eat for strong bones
Salmon and scrambled eggs with a side of spinach anyone? This is an example of perfect bone food. See it for the plate of vitamin D and calcium goodness that it is. Eat plenty of leafy greens, oily fish, eggs, and dairy. It’ll do you good—you’ll feel it in your bones (sorry!).
11. Do Pilates and/or yoga
There are two reasons for this recommendation. Firstly, these activities strengthen your core (i.e. your abdomen and pelvic area), which will help you with a whole manner of things you may not have considered, from improving your strength to helping you run better. Secondly, you’ll enhance your bodily awareness, which will make you think about your posture more. Before long, adopting good posture will become second nature to you.