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Tips for Better Posture

Last week we discussed 10 daily posture mistakes common to most people. Today, we'll go over what actions you can take to correct these mishaps.

1. Turn the tables. Get a standing desk. Your goal is more movement, so don't just stand there -- breathe deeply and maintain good posture, since your muscles are like tiny hearts that need movement to pump blood and enhance circulation. Or, sit on an exercise ball to keep the core engaged and a strong back.

2. Do stretches and movements that open and lengthen the muscles in the front of your body, such as your chest, forearms and biceps and the big muscles that are at the front and sides of the hips. Try reaching for the sky while lunging.

3. Exercises for the upper body (backside) that simulate rowing or pulling, and require you to pull your shoulder blades down. At the same time, go easy on bench press-type exercises or excessive push-ups. Focus instead on seated rows or standing rows, and pull-ups.

4. Breathe slowly -- in through your nose, and fill your belly. Hold for a few full seconds. Then, with your tongue held lightly against the roof of your mouth, slowly let the breath out. Practice this throughout the day to decrease stress and improve posture. Check out this blog for more breathing tips.

5. For best posture practice, do these three movements. Roll your shoulders down and back, then pull your elbows back toward your back pants pockets (this presses your scapula up against your ribs, as though you were using them to push your heart up and out). 6. Stand on your entire foot. Most people stand with weight over their heels, which causes your feet to become weak and turn in, which increases stress on your weight-bearing joints (ankles, knees, hips and lower back).

7. Whether standing or sitting, become ergonomically sound with your computer setup. Keep your eyes level with the top of monitor, elbows and wrists straight at 90-degree angles.

8. Take a picture. Print photos of proper posture and put them up where you can see them easily, and even set a timer to be reminded every 20-30 minutes to correct your posture. In time, this will become automatic and you will self correct with very little effort.

9. Use props and tools, such as lumbar support pillows and seat wedgesthat help maintain normal spinal curves when sitting to decrease posture stress.

10. See a professional, such as a chiropractor or physical therapist who specializes in improving posture using a proven science-based approach. In my experience, everyone is a unique case, and if you are having posture issues or chronic pain, improving your posture can be a life-changing gift.

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