6 Simple Ways to Maintain Perfect Posture

If you are feeling back pain, neck pain or shoulder pain, you may benefit from physical therapy to help decrease your pain and learn strategies to manage your condition.  Two of the most important strategies to manage your pain are exercise and postural correction. (Robin McKenzie, the great spine guru PT, once stated that the three most important things to do to combat back pain is posture correction, posture correction, and posture correction.)

Your physical therapist can teach you the proper way to sit or stand to attain optimal posture to manage your condition.  But it can be difficult to maintain appropriate posture as you go through your day.  While working or driving, many people forget to be mindful of their posture; they simply slip back into their old habits of sitting slouched which may lead to continued pain and movement limitations.

There are ways to start to change your posture and make that change a lasting one.  First things first: make sure you visit your physical therapist to learn the best way for you to sit or stand to manage your specific condition.  Then, use these strategies to maintain appropriate posture.

1
Use a Lumbar Roll

Woman with poor posture sitting at desk in chair
Diane Diederich/E+/Getty Images

One of the simplest ways to attain and maintain proper sitting posture is to use a lumbar roll.  These are low cost round pillows that can be used while sitting to help maintain the forward curve in your low back.  This curve, called your lumbar lordosis, is essential for keeping stress off your back muscles, joints, and discs.

Many physical therapists have lumbar rolls for sale.  Your PT can help you obtain one and can teach you how to properly use your lumbar roll. 

2
Perform the Slouch Overcorrect Procedure

Proper sitting posture for the spine.
Overcorrect your posture, hold for 2 seconds, then release 10-15% of the strain to attain proper sitting posture. Brett Sears, PT, 2011

The slouch overcorrect exercise is a simple maneuver used to train your body to find, and maintain, good posture.  The exercise involves slowly shifting from a slouched position to an overcorrected postural position.

Once your posture is overcorrected, a slight relaxation from full erect posture will leave you sitting in proper posture.  Working on the slouch overcorrect exercise can help train your body to get the feel of proper posture.

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3
Use Kinesiology Tape

Kinesiology tape can be used to maintain posture.
Use kinesiology tape to help sit tall and maintain proper posture. Alexander Klemm/E+/Getty Images

Kinesiology tape is a newer type of treatment in physical therapy.  The tape is a flexible, cotton adhesive that helps to facilitate muscle contractions and inhibit muscle spasm and pain.

A simple way to help facilitate your postural support muscles is to use kinesiology tape.  The tape can be applied to your middle trapezius and rhomboid muscles to help support your shoulder blades and spine.

Kinesiology tape for postural control also provides a slight gentle pull to your muscles when you are slouching.  This gentle reminder may be enough to keep you sitting and standing tall with excellent posture.

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4
Learn How to do Scapular Stabilization Exercises

The prone
Lie face down and slowly raise your arm straight out to the side while pinching your shoulder blade back. Brett Sears, 2011

Your physical therapist can help you improve your posture through exercise.  By strengthening the muscles that attach to your shoulder blades, you will have better control of your posture.

Simple exercises like the prone T, prone I, or prone Y can help to improve the neuromuscular recruitment of the muscles that help maintain proper posture.

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5
Set an Alarm

It sounds simple, but setting an alarm while working can help train your body to maintain appropriate posture.  How many times have you sat at your computer with perfect posture, only to find yourself slouching within a few minutes?

Many computers and smartphones have an alarm function.  Simply set an alarm or timer to go off every 20 to 30 minutes.  When the alarm rings, adjust your posture, hit the snooze, and get back to work.  As you get better at maintaining appropriate posture, you can increase the time between alarms.

6
Recruit Friends to Give You Gentle Reminders

The problem with monitoring your posture is that it is difficult to see yourself when you are sitting.  To remedy this, you can sit and work in front of a mirror all day, but a better idea is to simply recruit friends and co-workers to gently remind you to sit tall whenever they see you slouching.

Poor sitting and standing posture can be one cause of back pain, neck pain, or shoulder pain.  By visiting your physical therapist and learning to attain and maintain proper posture, you can be sure to quickly resolve your issues and prevent future episodes of pain. 

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