We all want perfect posture, but obviously, we can’t be correcting it all the time, as we have other things to do and think about. Indeed, unless your job involves you having a good posture (like a dancer or a massage therapist), taking time and attention to correct your posture during your working day might detract from the quality of your work. A common time for people to think about their posture is when they’re exercising. That’s great, but it often translates to an “exercise posture” that gets forgotten the moment people put their “normal clothes” back on.
A great way I’ve found to improve my posture in a durable fashion and without impacting the rest of my life negatively, is to take time in mundane moments when I don’t have too much on my mind, doing activities that don’t require too much focus (brushing my teeth, taking a pan out of the drawer,…), to notice and correct my posture. This has made “good posture” a part of my normal, everyday life, and has had a lasting effect on how I hold myself.
Here are 5 such daily occasions to perfect your posture, for long lasting change.
Brushing your teeth and eating
You might have noticed that many people, when eating or brushing their teeth, bring their mouth to the food or toothbrush. I was definitely doing this until I trained myself otherwise! This is a perfect opportunity to remind yourself to keep your neck and head upright, and to use the range of motion of your whole arm, most notably the shoulder, to bring food or your toothbrush to your mouth. This will make your shoulder joint move in ways that are very beneficial, so if you’re afraid of frozen shoulder, that’s a step towards preventing it!
Putting on make-up or shaving
… or any task involving doing something precise on your face, in front of a mirror. This is another time when we bring our head quite far forward, which is a great occasion to consolidate an alternative movement. If you’re sitting, try sitting up on your sit-bones, so that you keep your spine straighter. If your standing, fold at the hips for the same effect.
Looking at the stars
I often catch myself looking up using only my neck, while my upper back is a bit hunched, and I’ve observed many people doing the same. This is a great occasion to remind yourself that your thoracic spine (the segment of the spine between your stomach and your shoulders) is mobile, and can assist you in looking up!
Taking something from a lower drawer, cleaning the toilet, etc.
Any occasion we have to interact with objects that are below the reach of our hands is an occasion to treat our lower back better. Make sure that you don’t round your lower back, but fold at the hips. This will have the combined benefit of relieving stress from your lumbar region, while providing your hip joint with welcome lubrication from the rolling of the femur head in the hip socket.
And many others
There are many other times when we’re doing something ordinary, without thinking about how (drying or styling one’s hair, cooking, getting dressed, showering…), that are perfect moments to take a few seconds to make postural adjustments. The most frequent of such adjustments that I would recommend any time you’re spending some time standing, is to back up your pelvis, so that your hip joints are on top of your ankle joints. This will make most of your posture-related issues go away very quickly. I wrote an article earlier to guide you towards good general standing posture, and I recommend reading this one, written by the wonderful Katy Bowman, about backing up one’s hips in particular.