4 Steps to Better Posture
Though a professional wardrobe and manners do well to make a solid first impression, there’s nothing like perfect posture to create a lasting, confident persona for yourself in a workplace setting. Use these tips and exercises to stand a bit taller and improve your appearance at all times, whether you’re meeting with your superior or giving a presentation to the entire office.
Start early. Good posture is not innate—it has to be learned. When you wake up, stand in front of a full-length mirror. Facing forward, note if your shoulders are sitting back or are unattractively hunched forward. Then, adjust your posture as needed so that your shoulders are back, your torso is upright, and your head sits directly above your torso.
Clue yourself in. Even when you start the day with good posture, everyday tasks like typing at your computer can deter your goal to maintain it. If you find yourself slouching during certain tasks, set up a reminder to correct your posture. For example, if you work at a desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., set up pop-up reminders on your e-mail that say “Check Posture” for regular intervals. Soon, good posture will become a habit.
Stretch. Dr. Jana Klauer, a member of the Equinox health-club medical board, suggests doing this exercise to combat poor posture caused by office work. Lie face up on a stability ball and then lean back to stretch your entire back at once. Then turn over onto your stomach and extend one arm and the opposite leg while atop the ball. Hold for a few seconds and repeat on the opposite side. “If we sit at a desk all day most of our time is spent with the upper back in flexion. This encourages stooped shoulders and poor posture and decreased respiratory capacity,” says Klauer. “This exercise reverses the effect by opening up the chest and upper back on the ball.”
Buy a broom. And don’t just use it to sweep your floor. “A common postural mistake is carrying bags on one side exclusively, which leads to one shoulder increasing muscle mass in the trapezius on that side,” says Klauer. Test your shoulders for this precursor to poor posture by holding a broom in front of you with arms outstretched at shoulder height in front of a mirror. If your shoulders aren’t even, strengthen both sides by holding the broom overhead and bending to one side, then the other. Repeat daily.