6 Things That Will Improve Your Posture

Medically Reviewed By William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
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  • young woman leaning forward looking at laptop

    Most people don’t give much thought to how they sit, stand, or move—until pain or injury forces them to pay attention to their posture.

    Proper alignment of the body promotes good health; improper posture takes a toll on the muscles, joints, and tendons. According to the National Institutes of Health, years of poor posture increases the likelihood of injury and pain, especially back and neck pain. Poor posture can also increase the risk of falls and negatively affect digestion, breathing and mental health.

    It’s never too late to improve your posture. These six strategies can help you achieve posture correction.

  • 1
    Exercise
    GettyImages-1294959296

    Almost any kind of exercise can benefit your posture. Exercises that target the core muscles—those around your back, abdomen and pelvis—are particularly beneficial, as these muscles support the spine. Planks or modified planks (holding your body in a push-up position while supported by your hands or elbows) are great core-strengthening exercises. Start by holding the position for just a few seconds, and gradually increase the time you hold position. Exercises that strengthen the chest and shoulder muscles are also helpful. You can find additional posture exercises online.

  • 2
    Maintain a healthy weight.
    step-on-the-scale

    Excess weight puts extra stress and strain on the bones, muscles and joints. The extra weight can also contribute to poor posture because weight gain shifts the body’s center of gravity and people naturally adapt their stance to accommodate a changed center of gravity.

    If you are overweight, losing a few pounds may help you improve your posture. Dropping excess weight will also make it easier to engage in physical activities that strengthen core muscles.

  • 3
    Set up an ergonomic workspace.
    woman seated at desk in ergonomic position

    Posture exercises won’t do a lot of good if you spend hours a day slouched in a chair, leaning on a counter, or lifting boxes with poor body mechanics. It is worthwhile to invest in equipment that will help you maintain proper posture while at work.

    You should not have to bend or stretch to reach your work area. If you sit in a chair, your thighs and hips should be parallel to the floor; your feet should rest comfortably on the floor. Use a back pillow or rolled-up towel to support the curve of your lower back.

  • 4
    Wear low-heeled shoes.
    low section of businesswoman walking with dog on wooden floor

    High-heeled shoes, including high-heeled boots and wedge-style sandals and sneakers, shift your center of gravity when you’re standing or walking, which can throw your posture out of alignment. It’s OK to wear heels for special occasions, but it’s not a good idea to wear high heels on a regular basis—and it’s definitely not a good idea to wear them if you’re planning to do a lot of walking.

    Stick to comfortable, well-fitting, low-heeled shoes whenever possible.

  • 5
    Schedule a physical therapy appointment.
    Woman in physical therapy for shoulder

    Buying and wearing a posture brace or posture bra might seem like an easy solution to poor posture, but the available evidence suggests you’d be better off scheduling an appointment with a physical therapist. According to a 2019 review published in the Scandinavian Journal of Pain, “There is no good quality evidence to support recommendation of posture-correcting shirts as a management strategy for musculoskeletal pain.”

    A physical therapist can identify problems with your posture and create an individualized training program to strengthen your muscles and improve your body mechanics.

  • 6
    Think about it.
    office worker using standing desk while talking to seated colleague

    Because many people default to poor posture, it will take a conscious effort to maintain proper posture. You might want to implement “posture checks” throughout the day: simply take a moment to review and adjust your posture if necessary. (If seated, are you sitting all the way back in the chair? Is your lower back supported? Are your feet flat on the flood? If standing, are your shoulders pulled back?)

    In time, proper posture will become second nature.

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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2021 Apr 21
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THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
  1. Guide to Good Posture. MedlinePlus, National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health. https://medlineplus.gov/guidetogoodposture.html
  2. Getting It Straight. National Institutes of Health. https://newsinhealth.nih.gov/2017/08/getting-it-straight
  3. Palsson, T., Travers, M., Rafn, T., Ingemann-Molden, S., Caneiro, J., & Christensen, S. (2019). The use of posture-correcting shirts for managing musculoskeletal pain is not supported by current evidence – a scoping review of the literature. Scandinavian Journal Of Pain, 19(4), 659-670. doi: 10.1515/sjpain-2019-0005. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31075089/
  4. Is It Too Late to Save Your Posture? Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/is-it-too-late-to-save-your-posture
  5. Maintaining Good Posture. American Chiropractic Association. https://www.acatoday.org/Patients/Health-Wellness-Information/Posture