How To Perfect Your Posture

My grandmother had a peculiar way to cure to bad posture. Growing up, if she saw me slouching, she would not-so-gently take the knuckle of her pointer finger and, beginning at the base of the spine, run it up the entire thing. The motion would immediately force me to sit up straight and pull the shoulder blades back. Although the method was rather old-school, she swore it would save me from a lifetime of hunching.

Years later, I still think about her when I find myself sitting at a desk or on the couch for way too long. And over the past year, this has occurred way more often than I’d like to admit. There are all kinds of terms for it—tech neck, hunchback—but whatever you call it, physicians agree it is a real problem. When left unchecked, it can cause chronic pain, limited range of motion, spinal misalignment and herniated discs.

Luckily there are a host of cutting-edge tools and exercises proven to help straighten you out, no knuckles needed.

THE TEST: HOW TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE BAD POSTURE

There is a simple test to see if you suffer from bad posture. All you need is a tape measure and a friend. Stand against the wall with the back of your head, shoulder blades and glutes touching the wall. Your feet will be a few inches away. Then measure the distance from your neck to the wall and the distance from your low back to the wall. If the difference between the two measurements is greater than an inch or two, your spine is most likely out of alignment.

Without using the test, you can often identify bad posture by a couple of classic symptoms: rounded shoulders, extreme curved spine or a neck that juts forward.

EXERCISES AND STRETCHES

If you have identified posture issues, try the following exercises to counteract what the sitting has done to your spine. Benefits include spinal stability, mobility and strength.

Bird-dog

Begin on all fours with your shoulders right over your wrists and your hips over your knees. Extend your left arm forward and right leg back behind you. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds and switch sides, with the right arm forward and left leg back.

Back extension

Begin laying face-down with your arms straight by your side, palms down, and your legs extended straight. Raise all your limbs about six inches off the ground and hold for 30 seconds. Repeat three to five times.

Knee to chest

Begin on your back. Pull the left knee in to your chest and lift the right foot three to four inches off the ground. Hold for 30 seconds and switch to the other side.  Repeat three to five times.

TOOLS AND TECH

If the exercises aren’t enough, let technology take the wheel. The following gadgets were all specifically crafted to correct postural problems.

Chirp Wheel

This FDA-registered tool was created with one purpose: to relieve minor back pain. With three sizes and accessory tools available, the Chirp Wheel looks like a cousin of the foam roller. Its magic lies in the unique design which has a subtle groove that follows right along the spine for optimal spot treatment.

For more information, visit gochirp.com.

The Waff

The Waff is a simple inflatable tool that boasts big benefits. The donut-shaped inflatable can be used for meditation or exercise, but when it comes to back pain and posture, it has many uses. The most useful one is to sit on the smallest version (it comes in a variety of sizes) at your desk or at home. The instability of the air will force you to engage all the muscles around the spine, strengthening it.

For more information, visit waffstudio.com.

Upright

The most technically advanced tool is Upright. It’s a sensor that attaches to your back and vibrates when you are starting to engage in bad posture habits. The idea is that eventually you will train your body to automatically sit in a healthy way.

For more information, visit uprightpose.com

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