Well-Being//

How to Habit-Stack Your Way to Better Posture

Tack on a posture correction to your meeting or bathroom break and you’ll be standing taller in no time.

suriya yapin / Shutterstock
suriya yapin / Shutterstock

It may take an inadvertent glance in the mirror, or some nagging, dull back pain to realize you need to correct your posture in the first place, but when you do become aware of your slouched shoulders or aching neck, it’s crucial you make a change. 

Bad posture isn’t just detrimental to your physical health; studies indicate it can affect your ability to fend off feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, and focus in the face of stress — a highly valuable skill for feeling and performing your best at work. So if you’re one of those people whose midday slump involves, well, literally slumping over at your desk, these habit-stacking tips will help you seamlessly integrate a posture correction Microstep into your daily routine. 

Correct your posture at the end of each meeting 

There is no better time to check in with your alignment than after spending 45 minutes in an uncomfortable chair, craning your neck to see your colleague’s presentation. After the meeting comes to a close, check in with how you are sitting: Are your shoulders slouched? Is your back hunched? Is your chin pointed downward, or are you looking straight ahead? When you stand up at the end of each meeting, take the opportunity to correct your posture. If you’re wondering what exactly good posture looks like, Harvard Health Publishing says your chin should be parallel to the floor; shoulders, hips, elbows, and knees even; spine neutral; and abdominal muscles braced. 

Try the “Rule of Five” after answering five emails 

“Most of us are not thinking about our posture when we are clicking away at our computers,” Mitchell Starkman, R.P.T., M.Sc.P.T., a physiotherapist based in Toronto, tells Thrive — but the truth is, each of us can set aside just seconds throughout the day to correct how we’re sitting. Cue Starkman’s “rule of five”: a quick postural correction that won’t take more than 25 seconds. To complete the exercise, pull your shoulders together and then downward, and pull your neck back so it’s in line with your shoulders. Then, hold the position for five seconds, and repeat until you’ve done the correction five times. A great way to remember to do this is by habit-stacking the practice to your email routine — once you’ve answered five messages, complete the rule of five. 

Turn your bathroom breaks into an opportunity for alignment 

Your trip to the bathroom provides you with a useful posture tool: a mirror. Take an extra moment to get some visual feedback and check your alignment as you wash your hands. Seeing your reflection will give you an idea of whether it’s your shoulders, for example, or your neck that needs some extra attention as you strive to improve your posture. 

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