How do I fix my terrible posture?

Due to the fact that I moped around in High School/University with my head staring at my shoes and my shoulders rolled forward I now have this sort of posture permanently when I walk around… consequently I have some bad neck and shoulder problems. I also look oafish and such.

How can I get back to an upright posture? I’ve tried walking around with my shoulders back and my chin tucked in, but invariably I lapse back in the bad posture.

Should I just keep forcing myself until its comfortable? Is there some sort of excercise I can do? I went to a Chiropractor awhile back about my neck and she said it wasn’t skeletal at all… that my neck muscles were the tightest she’d ever seen. Rolling my shoulders back is not a problem, but tucking my chin in hurts like hell, it feels really unnatural and strains my neck pretty bad.

Stretch everything, and take up rowing.

Geez, I was just thinking this today. I have a horrible tendency to slouch pretty much all the time, but whenever I try to correct it, I end up slouching again within 10 minutes.

Don’t bother trying to force-correct yourself, because you’ll get distracted after five minutes and start slouching again.

Join a gym (if you’re not already a member) and try bench or shoulder pressing. Or a row machine, as ultrafiler mentioned. It worked somewhat for me.

I have been a sloucher since I was a little kid. My mom had me tested for scoliosis when I was six! The nurse told her that I just needed to stand up straight, which, as any sloucher will tell you, is pretty useless advice. If it was really that easy, nobody would slouch.

I have improved my posture a great deal through yoga.

Yoga teaches you what good posture is. When I was exhorted to “stand up straight”, I just tried to straighten my spine, but that’s not really sufficient. In yoga, the emphasis is on having a long spine, which is a much more useful instruction than “straighten up” to me. More importantly, you learn how to “stack” your ankles, knees, pelvis, ribcage, shoulders, and head so that everything is straight and in balance. It’s hard or even impossible to maintain a straight back if the rest of your body isn’t cooperating–your back gets sore and you feel crappy and you just end up going back to your slouch!

Yoga also teaches body awareness: How do I feel when I’m standing straight? How does it feel to be properly balanced? What does it feel like when I’m not balanced? How do I feel when I am slouching? You learn what things should feel like, and this makes it much easier to notice and correct when things go wrong. In addition to learning how to consciously assess and correct your posture, you also just end up paying more attention to your body in general, so you notice when you slouch (because it doesn’t feel right!) and you want to correct it right away.

Yoga also builds core body strength, including the muscles necessary to maintain good posture.

One less obvious thing is breathing. In yoga, you learn the different types of breathing and the benefits to be gained from deep, regular breath. It’s easier to breathe when your posture is good! A lot of the gains I made in my posture, surprisingly, came from thinking about how my rib cage is situated. Are my sholders rolled forward, compressing my rib cage, or is my rib cage open and elevated? Is my neck tilted forward, compressing my airway, or is my head up and my throat open? This isn’t something I was taught explicitly, but it followed naturally from the idea of having a long spine and being conscious of my breathing.

So yoga’s great. A huge focus in yoga is spinal stretches that are great for alleiviating back pain–the bane of us slouchers. And you finally learn how to stand up straight.

I second the rowing suggestion. Particulalry, if you can get some coaching. Having the coach nag you to sit up every other stroke is a great motivator. (I’ve recently started coaching and having to nag other rowers to sit up also prompts me to pay more attention to my posture off the water).

Rowing (on the water or a machine) will also strengthen your lats and your lower back which will help you to improve your posture. If you do decide to use a rowing machine, ask someone how to use it correctly to avoid hurting your back. Here’s an animated example.

Quit slouching. That should do it. :slight_smile: