User Reviewed

How to Stop Slouching

Three Methods:Identifying Good PostureChanging Your Everyday LifeDoing Stretches and Exercises

Modern comforts and busy schedules have made it all too easy to slouch. Slouching can cause major health problems over time, including headaches, pulled muscles, and back pain. Prolonged slouching also leads to musculoskeletal stress on both your vertebrae and the discs between the vertebrae.[1] To avoid these kinds of issues, you can follow a few simple steps to learn to stop slouching.

Method 1
Identifying Good Posture

  1. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 1
    Keep good form while sitting. Your body has natural curves in it, and good posture helps promote that. To have good posture while you sit, you need to keep your shoulders back, your chest open, and your back straight and tall. To keep your shoulders back, you need to move your shoulders back and push your chest out more. You should feel your head move back as well. This should open up your chest and tuck in your abdomen muscles.
    • Your back should straighten naturally as you push your shoulders back and open your chest[2]
    • Make sure you keep your shoulders straight and relaxed. They should not be elevated, rounded, or pulled too far backward.[3]
  2. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 2
    Stand up straight. Now that you have your shoulders and chest aligned, it is time to learn to stand and walk with better posture. Start with your shoulders pulled back and relaxed and your abdomen pulled in. Keep your feet hip distance apart and balance your weight easily on both feet. Relax your knees and hand your arms to the side.
    • You should feel like there is a string from the bottom of your feet to the top of your head, keeping your body aligned and balanced.[4]
  3. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 3
    Check your posture. To check your posture, you need to stand against the wall. Your head, shoulder blades, and buttocks should touch the wall and your heels should be 2-4 inches away from the wall. Take your arm and run the palm of your hand along the wall along the space at your lower back. If you are standing with correct posture, your hand should just fit in the area.
    • If there is more than a hand's width worth of space, you are pushing your stomach and hips out too much. You should contract your abs and pull your back toward the wall more.
    • If your hand cannot fit, you are hunched too far forward and you need to push your shoulders back.[5]

Method 2
Changing Your Everyday Life

  1. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 4
    Have better posture at work. Many people have jobs where they work at a desk. This is one of the main places where slouching can be at its worst. As you work throughout the day, you lean toward your computer or over your desk as you work on documents. If you sit too far forward, you put pressure on your pubic bone. If you sit too far back, you put pressure on your tailbone. In order to stop this trend, you should lean back in your chair, keeping your back flush with the chair's support.
    • If you feel too far away from your desk or computer, pull your chair closer or move your monitor closer to you on the desk.[6]
    • If you find yourself still slouching, try setting an alarm on your phone to remind you every hour to sit up straighter. This will help you get into the habit and you'll eventually not need the reminder.[7]
  2. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 5
    Sit in a better position. In all aspects of your life, you should sit properly to avoid muscle and back problems. You need to find a comfortable middle range where everything is aligned naturally. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and center your weight between your buttocks and pubic bone.
    • This goes for every place you sit. For example, make sure you are comfortable and sit straight in the car, especially if you have a long commute. Use a pillow or adjust your seat to get your back and spine aligned and centered while you drive.[8]
  3. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 6
    Check yourself in the mirror. To assess how your posture normally is, you need to evaluate how you stand. Turn facing a mirror and stand like you normally do. If your palms face your thighs with your thumbs pointing ahead of you, you have good posture. If your hands rest ahead of your thighs or behind your thighs, or if your palms back backwards, then your posture is wrong.
    • If you find that your posture is off, pull back your head and pull your shoulders down and back. This will realign your spine and get your posture toward the right angle.
    • If you feel like your chest is popping out, you are standing correctly.[9]
  4. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 7
    Stretch when you get up. Whenever you are stuck in one position too long, you should stretch. This can be at your desk at work, in your car, or on the couch while you're watching movies. Your muscles become fatigued, even when you are sitting still. To stretch your back and spine out, put your hands on your lower back once you stand up, fingers facing down. Lean back as far as you can and hold for a few seconds. Repeat a few times to get the kinks out of your back.
    • If you are at home, you can also lie flat on the floor with your weight on your elbows. Push your chest up, stretching out your lower back and spine.
    • Only do these exercises to the extent that your muscles are comfortable. Do not overextend your muscles because you don't want to cause injury.[10]
  5. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 8
    Check your sleep posture. When you sleep, you can have poor posture that reflects in your normal, waking posture. If you sleep on your side, try putting a pillow between your knees to help lessen the pull on your lower back. If you sleep on your back, you can put a pillow underneath your knees to help release the tension placed on your lower back while you sleep.
    • You should not sleep on your stomach. This position places too much strain on your neck as you sleep.[11]
  6. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 9
    Balance the weight you carry. There are times when you might have to carry a large load, such as a large purse, a backpack, or luggage. When you have to deal with these kinds of loads, you should try to balance the weight around as much as possible to keep strain off of your muscles and joints. If the weight is balanced, you will also be able to keep your normal, straight posture while you walk.
    • To help balance your loads, you should use bags that distribute the weight evenly, such as backpacks or rolling luggage.[12]
  7. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 10
    Make a lower back pad. When you are at work, at home, or in the car, you can sit for too long and start to feel pain in your lower back. To help prevent this, you can make yourself a pad to place along your lower back to help keep your posture straighter. Take a towel and fold it in half and then in half again. From the long rectangle, roll it into a cylinder, making a cushy pillow to put in your chair.
    • If a bath towel is too big, you can try a hand towel instead. Just fold it in half once and roll it into a small pillow for your back.[13]

Method 3
Doing Stretches and Exercises

  1. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 11
    Strengthen your core. The muscles in your core stretch from the area around your rib cage to around mid-thigh. These muscles work together to help you stand tall and regulate your posture. You should do exercises that strengthen these muscles in order to improve your posture and overall health.
    • Try exercises that work all of the muscles in this group. For example, lie flat on the ground with your legs bent above you, as if your feet were flat against the wall. Engage your abs and extend one leg down almost to the floor, straightening it as you go. Hold for a second just above the floor before you bring it back up. Repeat on the other leg. Do 20 sets of this exercises.[14]
  2. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 12
    Increase your neck flexibility. A lack of flexibility causes muscle imbalance and poor body alignment. You should increase stretches that help with the flexibility of your back, arms, and core. You should also incorporate this into your daily routine at work, where you stretch periodically throughout the day to increase your muscle flexibility even while stationary.
    • Try easy neck and back flexibility stretches. Stand or sit straight up. Pull your head back and center it over your spine. Pull your shoulders back and down and bend your arms, moving them down as if you are trying to put your elbows in your back pockets. Push your palms outward and hold for at least 6 seconds.
    • Repeat a few times during the day to increase flexibility.[15]
  3. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 13
    Try the superman stretch. To keep up your posture, you need to exercise the muscles in your back. To do the superman stretch, lie face down on the floor and extend both your arms over your head. Turn your thumbs toward the ceiling. Squeeze your glutes, contract your core, and lift your arms, head, and legs about 4 inches off the ground. Hold this position for 2 seconds, then lower your limbs back down to the floor.
    • You should repeat this move 15 times to help strengthen your shoulders and activate the muscles that strengthen your spine.[16]
  4. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 14
    Try the T and W exercises. One great way to improve your posture is to increase the strength in your back. To do the T exercise, lie face down on the floor and extend your arms to the side, make a large T with your body. Turn your thumbs to the ceiling as you contract your abs and glutes. Pull your shoulder blades together and lift your arms toward the ceiling as far as you can comfortably go. Hold this position for 2 seconds, and then lower your arms. Repeat 15 times.
    • To do the W exercise, lie face down with your upper arms straight across at the shoulder. Bend your arms so that your forearms are parallel to your neck, turning your thumbs toward the ceiling and making a W. Contract your abs and glutes, pulling your shoulder blades together and lift your arms toward the ceilings. Hold this position for 2 seconds. Repeat 15 times.
    • These exercises work the muscles that connect your shoulder blades to your spine, strengthening you spine alignment and improving your posture.[17]
  5. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 15
    Do a chest stretch. Your chest muscles can aid in your posture. To stretch them out, find a corner and face it. Bring your bent arms up, placing your forearms on the wall with your palms placed slightly below shoulder height. Slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together, leaning into the corner.
    • Hold this stretch for 3 seconds. Repeat 12 times.[18]
  6. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 16
    Perform the doorway stretch. The looseness and strength of your chest plays a role in how much you slouch. To build flexibility and strength in these muscles, stand in a doorway and hold your arm at your side at a 90 degree angle. Hold your elbow even with your shoulder and place your arm on the door jamb. Slowly lean forward, pushing out from the doorway and pulling your arm back against the jamb. Hold for 30 seconds and release.
    • Repeat with the opposite arm. You can also repeat this exercise multiple times a day.
    • To stretch your upper and lower chest muscles, repeat this exercise with your arm lower on the door jamb and higher as well.[19]
  7. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 17
    Try shoulder dislocations. Although this exercise might sounds dangerous, it does not cause shoulder dislocations. It helps make your shoulders more flexible, which will help you keep your chest up and back straight. To perform this exercise, you need a broomstick or PVC pipe that is about 5 feet long. Hold the stick in front of you with both hands, resting against your thighs. Slowly lift the stick off of your thighs, lifting your arms over your head, down around your body, until it rests on the back of your legs. Next, slowly bring your arms back around.
    • Do 3 sets of 10 reps, where one rep is a complete rotation of your arms.
    • You should start wide and bring your arms closer together if it feels like you can. The closer your hands are to each other on the stick, the deeper the stretch.
    • Make sure you do this slowly. You do not want to injure yourself by doing it too quickly.[20]
  8. Image titled Stop Slouching Step 18
    Attempt thoracic extensions. The thoracic spine is middle section of your spine. You need to keep it loose so it doesn't become hunched and immobile. For this exercise, you need a foam roller. Place the foam roller under your upper back with your feet and bottom on the floor. Place your hands behind your head and your elbows as close to your ears as possible. Let your head drop back, curling your back around the foam roller. Hold for a 15 seconds and come back up.
    • You can stretch out your whole back as well. When you are leaned back, use your feet to roll yourself up and down the foam roller. If you feel a particularly tense spot, stop and pull your head up, leaning back into the roller.[21]

Sources and Citations

Show more... (18)

Article Info

Categories: Back and Joint Care