i'm on my time with everyone; i have very bad posture...
November 13, 2006 8:51 AM   Subscribe

How can I improve my posture?

I'm 22 and I have pretty bad posture. If I don't concentrate on keeping my neck and back straight while walking or standing, I start to slouch. I've learned to sleep on my back, but sometimes I still wake up in the fetal position. Are there any tricks / excercises / prostheses that would help me?

Short of joining the military, I mean.
posted by es_de_bah to Health & Fitness (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Yoga has a strong emphasis on alignment. I would try Hatha or Anusara styles.
posted by sulaine at 8:53 AM on November 13, 2006


Do you have a sitting down job? I found that my posture deteriorated from sitting at a desk 9 hours a day, and it was causing back pain. A year or so ago, I switched from sitting in a desk chair to sitting on a stability ball, one of those big rubber balls that people use at the gym. At first, I could only sit on it for an hour or so at a time, but I worked up to sitting on it all the time, and my back pain disappeared. You basically have no choice but to sit up straight or else you fall off of it, plus it strengthens your abdominal and back muscles, which improves your posture. I've gotten lazy lately and gone back to my chair, but that's what I'd recommend.
posted by decathecting at 8:56 AM on November 13, 2006


Military posture is not actually very good for you -- it thrusts your chest out and constricts your back, and thrusts your chin forward and crunches your neck. I wouldn't emulate that.

Yoga is my mainstay recommendation for this. Pilates should also help. And decathecting is right that much of it is not about "standing up straight" as much as it is about getting your core muscles strong and even enough to properly support your trunk.
posted by occhiblu at 9:04 AM on November 13, 2006


Also, check the archives for more.
posted by occhiblu at 9:07 AM on November 13, 2006


I saw a thing intended for horse riders which holds your shoulders back. It may even be called that. Its now being recommended / marketed at non-riders. Anyone tried it or know the name?
posted by tomw at 9:21 AM on November 13, 2006


I have poor posture too, and here's what my trainer set up for me:

Get yourself a long dowel or broomstick. hold it on your back with both hands (one behind your neck and the other mid-spine), so that the dowel touches the back of your head AND the nape of your neck AND your tailbone.

Now, back yourself up to a chair and slowly sit down, keeping the dowel touching those three spots. You might want to spread your feet to shoulder-width. Sit slowly, then pop back up and repeat.

That will be $80, please.
posted by ImJustRick at 9:36 AM on November 13, 2006 [1 favorite]


Military posture is not actually very good for you [...] Yoga is my mainstay recommendation for this.
I recently read a website that wasn't very enthusiastic about yoga and pilates for women:

Whole Woman

Like the ancient tradition of yoga, Pilates is a form of exercise created by and for the male body. The original core mat program of Pilates places the body in a wide V-shape, with head and feet held off the floor. This sends tremendous stress to the pelvic diaphragm, an area that is compromised for many women. [...] Yoga and Pilates can be appreciated by men and women alike, but it is best to be aware of posiitons that send undue pressure to the female pelvic diaphragm.

Check the "Whole Woman Posture" FAQ entry as well.

I have no idea about the credentials of this website, but I do recognize a lot of other things that she says (I had pelvic pain after giving birth).
posted by davar at 9:42 AM on November 13, 2006


Pilates and also the Alexander technique may help. Pilates in particular works at strengthening the muscles of the core, which will make good posture easier and more natural. Google around on those.
posted by LeisureGuy at 10:18 AM on November 13, 2006


I have no experience with Pilates, but I can say that anusara yoga, at least, places a strong emphasis on natural pelvic alignment (including doing standing poses with the feet hip-width apart, rather then with the toes touching) that seems to fit what the "Whole Woman Posture (TM)" indicates as being healthy. That's including during the poses she deems bad for women's alignment.

Obviously doing poses with poor alignment, or taught poorly, can be bad for you. And sometimes even properly taught, properly aligned poses don't work for every body (my tight hamstrings tend to limit my yoga poses in many ways), and good yoga teachers will help you find alternatives -- "if it hurts you, stop" tends to be one of the main concepts. So I don't know -- something about that site strikes me as a bit sketchy, but certainly no one should do things they think are going to make them worse!
posted by occhiblu at 10:19 AM on November 13, 2006


Yoga and Pilates are good stuff; I'd also recommend Feldenkrais. (And good for you to be already thinking about this at 22.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 10:28 AM on November 13, 2006


I was considering using an exercise ball as an office chair myself, but I decided against it after reading this article. YMMV.
posted by designbot at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2006


The best thing that ever happened to my posture was taking dancing lessons. If you do it for a bit, you can't help but straighten your back. Also, if you're looking, there is always a shortage of younger males in the swing or ballroom dancing scene. You might want to check it out.
posted by jmprice at 11:16 AM on November 13, 2006


One other person mentioned Alexander technique and seccond that suggestion. Alexander specifically focuses on skeletal alignment. You'll be taught how to sit, stand and walk with good alignment.
posted by brookeb at 12:48 PM on November 13, 2006


Ballet lessons?
posted by Tixylix at 3:07 PM on November 13, 2006


Here's a useful article previously linked on Ask.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:36 PM on November 13, 2006


Perhaps Neanderthal no more is what you need. I've been sorta/kinda dabbling in this program for the last couple of weeks and i'm noticing changes.
posted by aeighty at 5:28 PM on November 13, 2006


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