Take a look around anywhere, from your local grocery store to the park by your home, and you’ll quickly realize that a whole lot of people suffer from bad, or improper, posture. While most of us have become accustomed to sitting, standing, or walking a certain way (which is why we don’t give it much thought), the truth is that the way we hold ourselves physically contributes a lot to our overall health and wellbeing, physically and mentally. Not only does poor posture create pain and discomfort in the physical body, but it also leads to things like decreased confidence and higher levels of stress.

Taking time to reevaluate your posture is an important part of taking care of yourself. Remember, pain and discomfort in your body are not “normal” no matter what your age is!

Although we spend a lot of time sitting these days, sitting isn’t necessarily the root cause of our poor posture. (It definitely is a contributing factor, however!) More aptly, we can say that how we sit determines whether or not we have proper or improper posture. If you sit for eight hours straight, for example, it’s going to have a negative impact on your posture. The more you can get up and move during your day, the more you’ll be able to keep your posture in a healthy, optimally functioning state. 

Rather than trying to “fix” how you sit, one of the most effective ways to improve your posture is actually to consider how you walk. Because your psoas muscle shortens when you sit, it’s important to lengthen and reset it as you walk, which means actually feeling a stretch in the upper inside of your thigh.

As you start to think more about your posture in general, whether when you’re walking or sitting, it’s important to remember that the best posture is always upright and relaxed. Additionally, you want your pelvis to be slightly tipped forward so that your spinal column can properly stack. The more your bones stack correctly, the less your muscles have to work to keep them in position — and that means less strain and pain!

If you believe that “good posture” is when your muscles are tense and your shoulders are pulled back tightly, then you’re missing the point of what real proper posture looks like. When your body is aligned correctly and your muscles are toned enough to offer support without strain, then great posture becomes second nature. Some of the muscles you want to gently engage for good posture include your deep abdominal muscles and the deep back muscles close to your spine. Exercises like swimming, jogging, and biking are all great for this. Additionally, strong glutes helps you maintain great posture, especially when you’re walking and standing upright. The more you can actively engage your glutes as you’re going about your day, the more you’ll start to see your posture naturally improve. 

Great posture doesn’t happen overnight. It takes work. But when you’re mindful about what good posture is and how to achieve it, you can start making progress every single day — and it adds up quickly! Don’t let age ever stop you from working on your posture because it’s an absolute myth that it naturally gets worse as you get older. You can enjoy great posture and a pain-free back at any age!