If you’re wondering how to improve your posture, you’ve come to the right place. Follow these tips to fix poor posture in no time.
As many former students can attest, studying and poor posture often go together hand-in-hand. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are four actionable tips on how to improve your posture while studying. But first:
Why posture is more than just your looks
It may seem fairly insignificant compared to the other things you worry about as a student, but bad posture can have a serious impact on your physical wellbeing. Unfortunately, many of us only figure this out later on in life, but bad posture doesn’t only affect your joints, it can also lead to other problems, such as headaches.
In fact, the number of headaches caused by poor posture is staggering. These headaches are a result of ‘trigger points’ which are sensitive areas of your muscles typically associated with poor posture. Your upper back is one of these muscle groups; if it gets overworked from activities such as typing without your elbows resting properly, you may start getting tension headaches.
And it’s not just headaches. Vision disturbances, vertigo, neck and shoulder pain, shallow breathing, and even increased anxiety are all symptoms of poor posture.
With this in mind, here are some solutions for combatting these issues:
1. Pull-ups and push-ups
There are all sorts of complex posture-related exercises out there. The problem is that many of them take a lot of time to master, rendering them inaccessible to the casual student exercising from home.
But simple exercises can be just as good for you. Even doing push-ups and pull-ups can make a massive difference. To start with, do ten push-ups with your elbows tucked in as tightly as possible. Follow-up with ten pull-ups - nothing fancy here.
Doing push-ups with your elbows tucked in helps to activate a set of muscles called the serratus anterior. This muscle group can end up dormant when you spend too much time sitting down, which can lead to a hump-like bulge forming in the upper back.
Pull-ups are extremely useful too; any pulling exercise helps to strengthen the back muscles which hold everything together. If ten of each is too much to begin with, start small with two reps and work your way up. Follow the KISS principle; Keep It Simple, Stupid.
2. Use a posture corrector
A posture corrector is great for maintaining a healthy sitting position. It’s a soft brace that pulls your shoulders back. They’re easy to put on and can be used while sitting, standing, walking, or exercising.
While it’s not a silver bullet solution, it does help to improve your posture. It also opens up your thoracic spine, which can be damaged by periods of prolonged sitting. If you end up in the market for one, make sure to get a model that can be adjusted for length and height. You can find these at Posturion.
3. Make your study space comfortable
If you’re uncomfortable, you won’t enjoy studying as much. Combat this by investing in an ergonomic chair and an office desk that fits your body type. There are some relatively inexpensive ergonomic chairs out there, such as Ikea’s famous Markus chair which you can buy on eBay for less than £100. While it might not make you love studying, it will certainly make it less painful. And, if possible, make sure your study space is set up according to these basic ergonomic rules.
4. Take frequent breaks
Breaking up your studies will really boost your wellbeing. Just about every single part of your body benefits from frequent five minute walks, including your blood sugar, cortisol, fatigue, and posture. Take a break every 25 minutes to half an hour to really feel the benefits. The Pomodoro technique is a great template to follow.
Bonus tip: It’s all in the chin!
Earlier we mentioned that pulling your shoulders back wasn’t the right way to improve your posture, as it creates unnecessary tension in your back muscles. However, there is another simple solution… tucking your chin in.
When you tuck your chin in to the point where the back of your head points upwards, you’re rotating your upper back into a healthy alignment. This subsequently aligns your lower back, then your hips, and so on. Try this method out yourself for a while and you’ll notice how your body realigns itself almost automatically.
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