7 Tips to Improve Your Posture at Work

By Matt Franklin

1) Don't let your commute wreck your back
According to US Census Bureau data, the average American commutes 25.5 minutes to work each way, and nearly 10% of us spend as much as an hour or more driving each way. Most of us fail to configure our car seats for correct ergonomics, so our time behind the wheel can seriously harm our posture.

Driving with your hands toward the top of your steering wheel tends to pull your shoulders forward, which causes your chest to collapse, rounding your upper back and leads to a hunched posture. Instead, next time you're driving to work, try the 9 and 3 o'clock positions on the steering wheel, or even 8 and 2. You'll immediately notice the lowered hand positions open your chest, which encourages a straighter upper back and a more erect driving posture.

2) Make every doorway a reminder to keep in good posture
I originally read about this tip in a book by Leil Lowndes. Walk into every room-even if it's empty-like you're the guest of honor. This may sound a bit strange, but it's a great tip. Use every doorway you walk through as a reminder to keep your head up, your chin up, your shoulders back, and your chest slightly out. Most of us pass through dozens of doorways every day, and using those door frames as a reminder to get yourself into great posture is a powerful, easy technique.

3) Palms up for good posture
This is another very basic tip, but it requires very little effort and it's highly effective. This is a simple way to get yourself back in good posture, especially when you're seated. I do this at my desk throughout the day, because after a while in the seat, my shoulders tend to round forward. With your elbows at your side, simply face your palms toward the ceiling. This simple move can pull your shoulders back and bring your shoulder blades closer together, which opens up your chest and immediately improves your posture. Try it right now-it really works.

4) Do shoulder rolls at your desk twice a day
Sitting at a desk eventually causes all of us to round our shoulders forward, so occasionally it's a good idea to loosen them up and get back into good posture. For this simple exercise, sit tall in your chair with your feet flat on the floor. Shrug your shoulders and roll them back, feeling your shoulder blades drawn down as you do. You should feel your chest stretch as your shoulders pull back. Do four or five rolls, then relax and take a breath. Repeat the rolls two or three times and do this exercise twice a day.

5) Raise your monitor
One of the easiest ways to improve your office ergonomic setup is to make sure your monitor is set to the correct height. If your monitor is too low, the tendency is to tilt your head forward, and each inch your head goes forward adds 10 lbs. of pressure on your neck and upper back. Using a ream of paper or two, or a monitor stand that can be purchased at any office supply store, raise your monitor so that your eyes are level with the top of the monitor. You'll notice the difference immediately and your neck will thank you.

6) Use (or make) a lumbar support
Many of today's desk chairs do not have adequate lumbar (lower back) support and as a result, many of us have developed lower back pain, in addition to poor posture. After sitting at your desk for prolonged periods of time, there's a natural tendency to lean forward, which often pushes your lower back outwards. This unnatural posterior curvature of the spine is often the cause of lower back pain. There are dozens of accessory lumbar supports available, or if you want to make your own, you can roll up a towel and use a few rubber bands to keep it from unrolling.

7) On your drive home, use the rearview mirror trick to stay upright
At the end of a long workday, most of us fall into our car and sit in a slouched position as we drive home, furthering the habit of poor posture. But this simple tip is a surprisingly effective way to keep upright during your commute. When you first enter your car, sit in upright posture, with your chin up, your back straight and your head high. Adjust the rearview mirror so that it is correctly aimed for this position and commence driving. Over time, we all have the tendency to settle into our seats, so when your posture does begin to slouch, you'll have an instant reminder to sit up because your mirror will now be aimed uncomfortably high. Get yourself back into upright posture and the mirror will be back in the right position. As little as an inch or so of slouching makes a surprising difference in the mirror's position, so use this simple tip to keep yourself in good driving posture.

Matt Franklin is a posture and ergonomics expert. He is co-inventor of the world's best selling posture correction device, which was featured on ABC's Shark Tank and he is the developer of Automatic Posture, an online course for improving back health and ergonomics http://www.automaticposture.com. Matt currently resides in Portland, Oregon and is an inventor, a serial entrepreneur and ergonomics consultant.

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