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How To Fix Your Posture: 3 Simple Techniques Guaranteed To Work

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how to fix your posture

Note: The following is a guest post from Tyler Watkins.

Do you have good posture, stand tall, and look confident?

Or is it something you’ve been struggling with?

If you’re like me, sitting at a desk all day, using your iPhone 24/7, your posture probably sucks.

I spent years sitting at a desk, hunched over the keyboard and working for far longer than I care to admit.

Our bodies are smart.

They shape themselves to what we regularly do.

So even when not at my desk, my shoulders would round forward like I’m typing, and my head would bend forward like I was looking down at a my phone.

And these slight changes aren’t easy to notice.

We get so used to sitting and standing in certain ways, starts to feel natural over time.

But if you already know you have poor posture, then congrats, you’re ahead of 99% of people out there.

To get a better sense of your posture, look in the mirror.

Don’t look from the front, but from the side.

What do you see?

If you have bad posture:

  • Your shoulders slope forward.
  • Your chest and head lowers at the same time
  • Your belly sticks out.

Shitty posture can make an otherwise fit person look 10 pounds heavier than they actually are.

2 (other) reasons your posture sucks balls

Besides sitting at a desk all day, there are 2 other big causes of bad posture:

Reason #1: Too much pushing, not enough pulling

Guys spend too much time in the gym doing pushing exercises (e.g. bench press and shoulder press) while ignoring pulling exercises (e.g. pull ups and rows).

If this is you, your body has probably adapted a forward posture as you built a disproportionate amount of strength on the front of your body.

There’s nothing wrong with benching, but to fix your posture, you need to do more pulling.

This  hepls prevents the “rounded shoulder” look so many guys suffer from.

Reason #2: Childhood beatdown

“Sit down and be quiet!”

As children we believed everything we’re told.

If you grew up with parents in an environment that taught you to not think too highly of yourself, to blend in, and not cause a lot of trouble…

If you were taught to be quiet, keep your head down, and do as you’re told…that shit sticks with you for the rest of your life.

You unconsciously developed poor posture that was a direct reflection to how you were raised.

I thought this was stupid at first. But the more I researched and thought about my childhood, the more it made sense.

Maybe it applies to you, maybe it doesn’t.

But being raised a certain way as a child can definitely have a negative impact on your posture when you get older.

How I finally improved my posture and regained my confidence

I started researching the causes of poor posture and how to correct them about a year ago.

I watched videos, read articles, and tried endless techniques (some that worked, some didn’t). I changed my workout routines, did static stretching, and strengthened weak muscle groups. I even went to a physiotherapist, got fully assessed and did several treatment sessions.

Basically, I did everything.

And what was the result?

After 8 months…

  • My clothes fit better.
  • I look leaner and more muscular.
  • My lower back pain dramatically improved.
  • And at 30 years old, my energy levels are higher than I can ever remember.

Check out the before/after pics below:

rounded shoulders before after posture

Left: Before, Right: After

back posture before after

Left: Before, Right: After

back posture before after

Below I describe the top 3 techniques that helped me the most.

The 3 techniques I used to fix my bad posture

SIDE NOTE

I am not a physiotherapist or a doctor. I’m just a guy who’s trained for years, got sick of having shitty posture and needed to do something about it. These are the best techniques that worked for me. 

We start with the easiest exercise you can use right now to get immediate results.

Technique #1: The “Head on String” Trick (5 seconds)

This technique can be done anywhere, anytime, and you’ll immediately feel the results.

The best part is that it only takes 5 seconds to do.

Think of it as your posture “reset” button to use whenever you notice yourself slouching a bit.

Video demo:

I want you to imagine that someone has attached a long string to the top of your head.

Now imagine that someone creates tension in the string by pulling it up towards the ceiling. Got it? Feel that pull on the top of your head.

Great, now hold it there. How does it feel? Do you immediately perk up? Lift your chest? Did you feel your abdominals engage?

To increase the effect, imagine that a second string is attached to a point in the middle of your chest right between your nipples. Create tension in that string and pull it up as well.

At this point stop and be careful – there is a slight danger to looking like you’re “trying too hard.”

If you look like you’re just puffing up your chest, then it just looks silly.

The key to looking natural while maintaining this posture is to :

  1. Relax your shoulders (you don’t need to pull them back unnaturally like chicken wings).
  2. Tighten your abs.

By tightening/sucking in your stomach you’ll feel a downward pull on your chest and ribcage. When you do this you might actually start to feel a slight burn in your middle back between your shoulder blades as well.

This means you’re doing it right.

In summary: Head up, chest up, shoulders relaxed, abs tight, slight burn in the middle back.

That’s it.

As you do this exercise more often you’ll become more aware of your posture on a day to day basis.

Recognize when you’re slouching and do this exercise for a quick fix.

Your posture and social situations

Become aware of how your posture changes when you are around different people in your life.

Does your posture slouch more as you “lean in” to listen carefully to your boss at work?

Do you unconsciously adapt a weak posture, or overcompensate by puffing up your chest around people who make you nervous (like that hot co-worker?)

Pay attention to your body’s unconcious positions in context to who you’re next to. It can tell you a lot about how you view yourself against other people.

[easy-tweet tweet=”Posture suck balls? Instantly fix it with these 3 techniques:”]

Exercise 2: The “Bathroom Stall” Technique (2 minutes)

This technique is great to use and reset your body after sitting for hours.

Use this when you need to do something to recharge your energy and get out of your computer posture.

To do this you need to be near a wall.

You can use any wall you want, but the technique looks kind of funny so you should probably do it somewhere alone.

Honestly, my favorite place to do it is in the bathroom stall.

Get up from your desk, go take a leak and before leaving the stall you can do this exercise and return feeling great.

There are 2 parts to this technique as demonstrated in the video below.

The first part is a well-known physiotherapy exercise called wall slides.

Start by standing with your back to a wall. Place the back of your head, the back of your shoulders, upper back, lower back, and butt all up against the wall. Place your feet about 2 inches away from the wall.

This may be uncomfortable.

If you can’t get into this position, then get as close as you can.

Now lift your arms up and to the side and place the back of your hands, back of your forearms and arms in contact with the wall as well. Now begin by sliding your arms and the back of your hands up and down the wall.

Visualize it like doing shoulder presses while always keeping contact with the wall.

The whole time, keep all of the body parts I mentioned above in contact with the wall. Slide your arms up and down the wall to do 10 full repetitions.

You will feel a slight burn in your middle back between the shoulder blades.

This is good. This muscle is probably weak and needs to be strengthened to support good posture.

After you finished, it should feel like your chest has opened up tremendously.

Part 2 is meant to elongate the back of your neck and spine. You will feel as if your head is lifting up to the sky while your body stays on the ground.

  1. Stand with your back against the wall (Same as wall slides – back of your head, shoulders, upper and lower back and butt touching the wall, and feet 2 inches away.)
  2. Elongate the back of your neck by trying to press your entire back of your neck against the wall while maintaining the other contacts. You should be tucking in your chin and moving the top of your head up along the wall.
  3. Don’t force this too hard as you can strain the muscles in your neck. Do it just hard enough to get a good stretch at the base of your skull. Now hold it there.
  4. Breathe in, breathe out and maintain the position. Notice as you breathe out the stretch increases when your chest is lowered due to the exhaling.
  5. Hold this position and continue to breathe in and out slowly and calmly for at least 1 minute. Personally I like to hold it for 2 minutes but it depends how much time you want to spend in the bathroom or wherever you are doing it.

Your neck, spine, and shoulders should all feel fantastic now.

You’re tall, confident, looking good and ready for another 4 hours at the desk ;).

Exercise 3: The 10 Minute Morning Ritual (10 minutes, duh)

This is by far the most involved of the 3 exercises. But it’s also the most valuable.

Doing this morning ritual has made some serious improvements in my posture.

I do this routine every day for two reasons.

  1. It just feels good to get up and do these exercises first thing in the morning.
  2. When you do something every day (on a set routine), you are subconsciously telling yourself it is important and something that matters.

I noticed after starting this morning routine, I was far more aware of when my posture started to slack off during the day.

And if it did slack off, I would simply use techniques 1 or 2 to fix it.

The 10-minute morning ritual is composed of the following 8 exercises.

  1. The Wall Stand
  2. Chin Tuck
  3. Thoracic spine mobilization (middle back movement)
  4. Chin nod
  5. Stretches
  6. Yoga Cobras
  7. Planks
  8. Wall slides

I will describe the exercises in detail below  (as well as demo them in the video below).

1) The Wall Stand – hold for 2 min

The wall stand is exactly what it sounds like.

Stand up against a wall with the back of your head, back of your shoulders, upper back, lower back and butt touching the wall.

Stand as tall as you can, while keeping your abdominals engaged and pressing your body up and into the wall. Breathe in and out slowly and calmly and try to keep your mind clear.

Hold this position for 2 minutes and you will already start feeling better.

2) Chin Tuck – 5 x 5 seconds each

Stand up against a wall with the back of your head, back of your shoulders, upper back, lower back and butt touching the wall. Stand as tall as you can, while keeping your abdominals engaged.

Now tuck your chin into the back of your neck.

Think of it as the opposite of what a chicken does.

Tuck in and hold for 5 seconds then release. Do this 5 times.

3) Thoracic spine mobilization – 5x backwards, 5x to each side, 5x twist each side

Stand freely away from the wall and engage your abs.

You will be moving the thoracic spine (the middle-upper section of the back), not the lower lumbar spine.

You want to keep the lower back and abs as stable as possible during the movement. Place your hands at the sides of your head and tuck your chin.

Now you will do 3 movements.

  1. Lean backwards – 5 times each
  2. Lean sideways – 5 times to each side
  3. Torso Twists – 5 times to each side

Do the movements as far as you comfortably can. Remember you are moving and twisting through the upper/middle back while keeping the lower back and abs solid and stationary.

This may feel strange and you may have far less mobility than you thought. A lot of us are used to twisting and bending our lower backs which is terrible for back health and pain.

This exercise will begin to help correct that poor movement pattern.

4) Chin nod – 5 x 5 seconds each

Stand up against a wall with the back of your head, back of your shoulders, upper back, lower back and butt touching the wall. Stand as tall as you can, while keeping your abdominals engaged.

Try to touch your chin to your chest without the back of your head losing contact with the wall.

Hold for 5 seconds. Relax. Repeat 5 times.

5) Stretches – 2 x 20 seconds per side

Stand freely away from the wall with your abs engaged.

Now lean your head to the left while keeping your body straight stretching the right side of your neck. Breathe deeply. Hold for 20 seconds.

Then lean your head to the right stretching the left side of your neck. Breathe deeply and hold for 20 seconds. Repeat each side twice.

6) Yoga Cobras – 5 x 5 seconds each

Lay belly down flat on the floor with your hands by your sides and legs straight back behind you. Lift your head, chest and arms off the floor.

Engage your abs and feel the contraction in your upper back and the back of your shoulders. Hold for 5 seconds. Lower and repeat 5 times.

7) Planks – 5 x 5 seconds each

While still lying face down on the floor.

Bring yourself up into a front plank position. Put your weight on your toes and your forearms flat on the floor.

Lift the entire rest of your body off the floor and maintain a straight line from your shoulders to your ankles.

Feel your abs contracting and remain stable.

Hold for 5 seconds. Lower yourself. Repeat 5 times.

8) Wall slides – 10 each

Just like we mentioned earlier in the article.

Start by standing with your back to a wall. Place the back of your head, the back of your shoulders, upper back, lower back, and butt all up against the wall. Place your feet about 2 inches away from the wall.

This may already be uncomfortable.

If it is not possible to get into this position for you, then get as close as you can. But that is an indication you really need to be working on your posture.

Now lift your arms up and to the side and place the back of your hands, back of your forearms and arms in contact with the wall as well. You will now begin by sliding your arms and the back of your hands up and down the wall.

Think of it like doing shoulder presses while keeping totally in contact with the wall. The whole time keeping contact with the wall with all the body parts I mentioned above. Slide your arms up and down the wall to do 10 full repetitions.

Final Thoughts

If you’re just starting out, I’d recommend doing technique #1 (“Head on String” Trick) and seeing how that works for you.

Over time, work your way up to technique #3 and do the complete morning ritual.

Fixing my posture has been a long journey for me. Don’t expect to have perfect posture over night but if you work on it everyday, it will improve.

If you have any questions, contact me any time or ask in the comments below.

I’m glad to help.

You can follow me on my blog here.

William
August 6, 2016

Great tips – Thanks, especially for those of us working at desks. Fortunately, mine now varies more between standing and sitting, but still do these tips and notice improved posture while being surprised with additional energy too!!

Reply
    Keith
    August 6, 2016

    Yeah standing desks are great if you have them.

    Reply
    Loyd Uhlig
    August 24, 2016

    With your head still tucked and your palms facing down, lift your arms above shoulder level, then bend your elbows and put your hands on your ears. Do that about ten times. With your head still tucked, reach out and above you with one hand and pull down, while you do the same with the other hand. Think “climbing an invisible ladder” and you’ll do it right. Do that about ten times.

    Reply
James
August 3, 2016

Good stuff. I’ve been doing wall slides just have not done them consistently.

Reply
    Keith
    August 3, 2016

    Yeah wall slides are great, but like anything you need to do it consistently to see the benefits.

    Reply

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