Let’s talk about posture, fellas. There’s a good chance yours could use improvement, and the worst part about it is you may not even realize it. We pick up poor posture habits all over the place — sitting at our desks all day, sleeping on old mattresses, wearing improper footwear, recovering from old injuries.
The point is, it happens, and if you’re not doing something about correcting yours, you should be. Aside from helping you look your best, proper posture also alleviates medical issues like strain on your lower back.
Even though it’s clear that having an upright posture is important, trying to make such a big shift can be tough.
The way we stand or sit is such an intrinsic, casual part of our lives that it can be overwhelming to suddenly be so conscious of it. But with the right tools, exercises and tips, you can certainly fix your posture.
Fixing your posture isn’t simply a matter of waking up one day and reminding yourself to stand up straight. It can be a rigorous process that takes some time. And part of the process may involve exercises.
In a 2015 study published in the Journal of Physical Therapy Science, researchers found that participants who did 20 minutes “posture correction” exercises three times a week had lower levels of pain after eight weeks.
According to the article, “Correct posture minimizes the strain on the human body by maintaining balance of the muscles and skeleton.”
On the other hand, “incorrect posture” can lead to “joint imbalance” which “limits the movement of the tendons and muscles and makes normal exercise and movement difficult.” But if you’re working at an office job or spend a large amount of time in front of computer, it can be extra hard.
In addition to doing stretches throughout the day, you should sign up for a workout class that meets throughout the week. Here are a few exercises you should consider:
Over the last few years, yoga has become remarkably popular. From 2012 to 2016, the number of Americans doing yoga increased by 50 percent.
But yoga is much more than just some fad. It has been shown to help numerous health conditions, including alleviating back pain, stretching muscles and joints, and improving "functional fitness." If you’re the type that needs some guidance when it comes to stretching, yoga could be ideal for you.
Yoga isn’t the only trendy exercise that’s been shown to improve posture. Pilates, a physical fitness exercise first invented in Germany, can also help.
Ultimately, the researchers concluded that pilates is a good treatment for people with forward head posture (FHP) — a condition that’s common amongst people who use electronic devices for eight hours a day.
Though pilates and yoga are great group activities, some people prefer the individual attention of regularly seeing a physical therapist.
A physical therapist can help you strengthen the muscles that are necessary to transform your posture for the better and will tailor your session to address your unique needs.
Research suggests that frequent phone and computer usage can lead to poor posture.
But those very same devices can also give you the tools you need to fix it. Posture apps are relatively new terrain, and because of that, there isn’t a lot of research out there yet to validate whether or not they necessarily work.
However, they can be generally useful in making you more mindful of your posture. Here are a few apps:
PostureMinder is a Google Chrome extension that lets you set up reminders to adjust the way you’re sitting. As you go about your workday, you will get pop-up notifications telling you to sit up straight.
Upright Go comes with a tiny device that you place on your back. The device connects to an app that notifies you when you have been slouching. In addition, the device buzzes you when you’re not sitting or standing straight. Users can track their progress and set goals for themselves.
Like PostureMinder, Nekoze is a computer application that’s designed for people who are sitting in front of a screen all day. The Japanese application syncs in with your Mac’s camera (or offers their own camera) and tells you when you have been slouching.
There’s plenty of research out there to show the traditional office desk is actually quite bad for you.
For example, a 2017 study published in the Journal of Lifestyle Medicine found that office workers who spend hours sitting in front of a desk suffer more from neck and upper-back pain.
Though quitting your job isn’t an option, the case for standing desks is one worth making.
Standing desks are a relatively new concept, and because of that, it’s understandable to be a little bit wary. However, there’s evidence showing that you can be just as productive — or even more — while using them.
In an article for International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, researchers concluded that that workers who use standing desks were just as productive as when they were sitting and even showed higher levels of alertness.
There are numerous ways to improve your posture. For some, pilates works. While for others, there needs to be a frequent reminder with apps or a change in their work style altogether with standing desks.
Regardless of what you do, you will be moving in the right direction because you’re being proactive about your health. Hims is dedicated to encouraging men to be more proactive about their health.
If you’re interested in more lifestyle and health tips, take a look at our blog.