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  • Dr. Allison Andre, DPT

The Ultimate Posture Correction Guide: Everything You Need Know!

The number of people looking for posture correcting exercises and stretches, posture correctors and posture supports shows many people are in desperate need of adjustment in posture. And for good reason!

Poor posture over years can lead to chronic disability, chronic pain, negative mood, decreased lung capacity, decreased balance and coordination – just to name a few!

“Good posture is a foundation for good health,” says Wendy Katzman, a physical therapist and former professor at the University of California San Francisco Department of Physical Therapy. And as a physical therapist myself, I see the results of poor posture on the human body, and the decline in mobility that accompanies it on a daily basis.


So, let’s learn a little bit more about posture today.

1. What Does Good Posture Look Like?

2. What Are the Causes of Bad Posture?

3. What Does Bad Posture Cause?

4 How to Get Rid of Bad Posture! Environmental Adjustments

and Exercises to Fix Your Posture





What good posture looks like
Neutral Alignment of the Body

According to the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA), good standing posture is alignment of the ear, shoulder, hip and ankle when viewed from the side. From the back, the spine should be straight, the ears should be level and balanced over the shoulders, and the shoulder should be balanced over a level pelvis. It means optimal balance in one’s muscles and skeletal system. Correct posture should maintain the natural curves of the spine (the neck, mid/upper back, and lower back), but not increase them.



A huge culprit to postural woes is spending too much time sitting. Whether it's at work, school, or home, sitting for long periods can weaken your core muscles that support your spine and pelvis. It can also cause your hip flexors to shorten and your hamstrings to tighten, leading to a slouched or hunched posture.

1. DRIVING -Contributes to poor posture by forcing you to lean forward and strain your neck. It can also cause your shoulders to round forward and your chest muscles to tighten, limiting your range of motion. And it's more sitting time.

2. WORKING - Depending on your occupation, you may have to perform tasks that involve bending, lifting, twisting, or reaching. These can put stress on your spine and joints if done incorrectly or repetitively. They can also cause muscle imbalances between your front and back muscles, resulting in a forward head posture or a swayback posture. Or you may have an occupation that involves prolonged sitting.

Text Neck Posture
Text Neck Posture

3. USING DEVICES - Using smartphones, tablets, laptops, or other devices can also affect your posture negatively by causing you to look down and tilt your head forward - called Text Neck. This can create tension in your neck muscles and compress your cervical spine. It can also cause you to round your shoulders and upper back, leading to a kyphotic posture and a forward head.

In general, poor posture is often a result of behaviors that eventually damage the muscles protecting our spine and natural curves, often resulting in a forward-head posture, tightness in our pectoralis, rounded shoulders, tight hip flexors, weak glutes, anterior pelvic tilt, and a weak core. Additionally, your head’s position is so important to posture; your entire body will adjust accordingly to maintain balance depending on the head’s position.



1. BACK PAIN: Poor posture can cause strain on your back muscles, leading to pain and spinal stenosis. Kushagra Verma, MD, a spine and scoliosis surgeon has said "That's probably the most common cause of bad posture in adults" when referring to stenosis.

x-ray of a neutral cervical spine and of a forward head posture
x-ray of neutral spine and forward head posture

2. NECK PAIN: When you slouch, you tend to crane your neck forward, which can cause neck pain and stiffness. It will also increase the load on the spine and damage the vertebral disks, leading to increased risk on chronic neck and back pain, vertebral fractures as you age. The head adds around 10 pounds in weight for every inch the face travels forward, and over time gravity will worsen this forward head posture over time.

3. HEADACHES: Poor posture can also cause tension headaches, as the muscles in your neck and shoulders become tight and strained.

4. REDUCED LUNG CAPACITY: Slouching can compress your chest and reduce your lung capacity, which can affect your breathing and lead to fatigue. In fact, it has been shown that poor posture can reduce lung capacity by 30%.

5. DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS: Poor posture can compress your internal organs, leading to digestive problems such as acid reflux, constipation, bloating and slow digestion. It can also make it difficult for the body's organs to properly absorb nutrients.

6. POOR CIRCULATION: When you sit or stand in a slouched position, you can put pressure on your blood vessels, which can reduce blood flow to your limbs and cause swelling or numbness.

7. POOR BALANCE AND COORDINATION: When your posture is out of alignment, it can affect your balance and coordination, making it more difficult to perform physical activities and increasing your risk of falls.



You may be wondering, "can you reverse bad posture?", the answer is YES. Follow a few simple steps and you can be on the path to better posture and health.


One of the best things you can do to change your posture is to practice MINDFULLNESS.


  • The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.

  • Ellen Langer, who has been researching mindfulness since 1970, defines it as “the very simple process of noticing new things” and calls it “the essence of engagement”.

In this case, we need to have mindfulness of how our body is moving, how it is standing, what muscles are engaged? This is also known as proprioception.


Proprioception plays a large role in self-regulation, coordination, posture and body awareness. When you can understand and quickly realize how your body is positioned, it becomes more of a habit to adjust into an optimal position.

Importance of breathing for posture health
Breathe for Posture

One way to develop improved mindfulness and proprioception of your body is to practice deep breathing exercises. According to Katzman, deep breathing exercises can help develop physical awareness and bring your body into correct posture positions. Practice deep inhalations, notice how the ribcage and chest expand; notice how your pelvic muscles and abdominals draw in on the exhale.

Additionally, I like to take “Posture checks” throughout the day. If I am deep into work mode, or TV mode…poor posture mode, I take time to notice my body position. I allow myself a few moments to correct whatever is needed to achieve neutral alignment. For instance,

  • If my head is forward, I’ll perform a chin tuck.

  • If my shoulders are rounded, I’ll squeeze my shoulder blades together (think back and down when you do this).

  • If I’m standing with a bent waist, I’ll squeeze my glutes and core and think about ‘standing tall’.

  • If I am sitting for too long, I will take a standing break.

  • If my neck/shoulders are really tense, I will consciously try to relax those muscles and take some deep breathes.

The more I do these little movements throughout the day, the more I become aware of my body position, and the easier it is to prevent (and fix) postural impairments. Little changes can have big impacts!



If most of your day is spent in a suboptimal set-up for your posture health, you are fighting an uphill battle!

Make it easy on yourself and start by adjusting your workspace! Ensure your computer screen is at eye level and your chair provides proper back support, hips and elbows are at 90 degrees, your feet should be on the floor. When standing, distribute weight evenly on both feet and avoid crossing your legs or locking your knees. A Treadmill Desk is another amazing way to optimize your workday and posture!

Make use of lumbar pillows to help maintain proper spinal alignment while sitting and pay attention to sleep position and see if changing your pillow or your position can help.



There are many exercises you can do to correct your bad posture. It's important to understand what specific impairments you have and perform the best exercises for your problem. Here are a few exercises I love to help correct your posture. If you are unsure or need additional support, you can seek out physical therapy for posture for more individualized and professional help.



What is Chin Tuck in exercise form?
Chin Tuck Exercise

What is a chin tuck? This is not referring to a plastic surgery chin tuck! A chin tuck is an ideal exercise to correct forward head posture by stretching the muscles that pull the head forward and strengthening the weak ones to maintain the head in the correct position. It also builds proprioceptive awareness.

  • Use your neck muscles (you can use your finger as a guide or to assist with the motion), to push your chin backward so your neck is in line with the rest or your body.

  • Hold this position for around 5 seconds at a time and repeat.

  • There is no exact number to perform but a recommendation is 10 reps 5-7 times a day.

  • I do chin tucks during activities that promote forward head posture, like driving, working on my computer, watching TV, etc.



Wall Angels are an effective exercise for correcting forward rounded shoulders by stretching the muscles keeping your shoulders forward and mobilizing your thoracic spine.

Wall Angels
Wall Angels Exercise


  • Stand with your back against a wall and your feet shoulder-width apart about 6-8 inches away from a wall.

  • Your butt, back, shoulders and head should be against the wall. You many need to push your belly button toward your spine so you can feel the middle of your back connect with the wall.

  • Raise your arms and place your elbows and wrists against the wall. Slowly move your arms up and down in a "snow angel" motion, making sure to keep your elbows and wrists against the wall throughout the movement. You will probably feel a stretch.

  • Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions, two to three times per day.

  • If this version is too difficult, modify it by performing in a doorway or on the floor.



The Chest Opener exercise can help stretch your pecs and muscles in your chest, shoulders, and upper back.

Pec stretch
Chest Opener Stretch


  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and place your hands on your lower back, with your fingers pointing down.

  • Slowly push your shoulders back and down and lift your chest towards the ceiling.

  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions, two to three times per day.

  • Variations include seated and lying down.



Scapular exercise
Shoulder Blade squeezes

The Shoulder Blade Squeeze exercise can help strengthen the muscles in your upper back.


  • To perform this exercise, sit or stand with your arms at your sides and your shoulders relaxed.

  • Slowly squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold this position for 5-10 seconds.

  • Release, and repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions, two to three times per day.

  • Variations include adding resistance, one of my favorite ways is with Crossover Symmetry bands.



Exercise Planks
Plank Core Exercise

What are exercise planks? The Plank is a great exercise for strengthening your core, which can help improve your posture and reduce back pain.


  • To perform this exercise, start in a push-up position, with your arms straight and your shoulders directly above your wrists, or with your elbows bent. Either work.

  • Tighten your core muscles, and hold this position for 20-30 seconds, or as long as you can.

  • Repeat this exercise for 3-5 repetitions, two to three times per week.

  • There are many plank variations you can perform.


Cat Cow stretch
Cat Cow Yoga Pose


The Cat-Cow stretch is a yoga pose that can help mobilize your spine in both flexion and extension. I LOVE this stretch; it feels good for my body. My daughter frequently comments about how much I do it!


  • Start on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly below your shoulders and your knees directly below your hips.

  • Inhale and arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone towards the ceiling (Cow Pose).

  • Exhale and round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest and bringing your tailbone towards your knees (Cat Pose).

  • Repeat this movement for 10-15 repetitions, two to three times per day.



Psoas stretch
Hip Flexor STretch

The Hip Flexor Stretch can help stretch your hip flexors, quads and even abdominals in certain variations. This is essential if you sit most of the day!


  • Hip flexor stretch kneeling will be performed on one knee, with your other foot in front of you, and your knee bent at a 90-degree angle.

  • Keep your back straight, gently push your hips forward, until you feel a stretch in your hip flexor.

  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, and then switch legs. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions, two to three times per day.

  • Variations include keeping the back knee off the ground, grabbing your back leg to add in more quad stretching and reaching in the air with your arms for a more intense version.



exercise bridging
Glute Bridges

The exercise bridging is a great exercise to strengthen your glutes and core.


  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor.

  • Tighten your core (flatten your back to the ground) and lift your hips off the floor, keeping your feet and shoulders on the ground, until your body forms a straight line from your shoulders to your knees.

  • Hold this position for 10-15 seconds, and then lower your hips back to the floor. Repeat this exercise for 10-15 repetitions for 2-3 rounds.

  • There are many variations including single leg bridge, banded bridges, hip thrusts to increase the difficulty of the exercise as you progress.


Posture is something I think about daily and work on as often as possible. With modern lifestyles, we have many obstacles to overcome in order to have optimal posture! What are your obstacles? Do you make posture a priority? Let me know what you think!


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