EAs the pandemic has led people everywhere to work from home, spending hours sitting at their desks or curled up on the couch with their laptop in tow, rumors of historically poor posture have begun. While squatting indefinitely can absolutely wreak havoc on your back, physical therapists and personal trainers are taking to social media to clear up an all-too-common misunderstanding—namely, that there actually is such a thing as “bad” posture.

What causes posture problems?

If you like to sit slouched or hunched over your desk, that’s not necessarily a cause for concern in itself. What, though, is when you sit that way All day long.

“What makes it ‘bad’ is holding it in for a long time,” explains Caitlin Ritt, founder of The Lotus Method, a postpartum specialist. “That’s what perpetuates this ‘weak-looking’ position.” And that’s what makes us suffer. When we spend hours out of alignment, some muscles lose strength while other parts of our body are overstressed.

But a pose that can be painful if one person holds it for too long may not affect anyone else, Ritt says. So it can be difficult to clearly identify what constitutes “bad” posture.

How long does it take to be negatively affected by posture?

If you find that you maintain the same posture for hours each day, Light Moves trainer Roxy Jones says that after about two months, your overall posture may be affected, whether you’re sitting (away from your desk/laptop) or standing.

Before it gets to the point—or even if it already is—there are ways to mitigate it. To begin, Ritt says to pay attention to your body. “If you find that you’re aching and aching in certain positions, listen to that and see if you can try a different position that feels better,” she says.

No matter what position you’re in, Jones says it’s important to take breaks, especially if you’re sitting, slouching, or staring at your laptop screen with your head down. Maybe move from your couch to the kitchen table for a while, or even to the floor for a while. Elevate your laptop with a computer stand to give your neck a break. And if you’re always sitting with one leg crossed, try putting the other up (or, better yet, try putting both feet on the ground).

And move! The easiest way to improve your overall posture is to not only get up and walk, but also work on mobility. Jones recommends “the world’s greatest stretch” or a couple of cat-cow stretches. “Our bodies are meant to move; The spine is meant to flex and stretch, so it’s good to do this throughout the day,” she says

Let’s go with this dynamic flow:

If taking different mid-day breaks seems too confusing, Jones says prioritizing movement at the beginning and end of the day can also work. If you’re not sure which movements will increase your mobility the most, she recommends taking one of her mobility classes (such as Upper Back Stretch, Stretch It Out: Shoulders and Back, or Total Body Pre-Workout Mobility Class) at Alo Moves. Apps “They’re quick and can help you relieve tension built up from sitting all day,” she shares.

Another way to reverse the effects of stagnant posture is strength training. “Our muscles are attached to our bones, and the stronger they are, the more they can support better posture and powerful movements throughout the day,” Jones explains.

Ritt also suggests focusing on your breathing. “It’s not something many of us think about, but how we breathe can have a huge impact on our nervous system and overall body mechanics and even posture,” he explains. “Practicing diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing (instead of breathing into our chest like many of us do) can help our parasympathetic nervous system (calm/restore our nervous system), when we are in our sympathetic way of life (fight or flight nervous system), and it Assists in core recruitment.”

Why should we pay attention to our posture?

While embarking on a posture-improvement journey may seem challenging at first, Jones says it’s essential if you don’t want to hunch over or slouch in everyday life. “Our bodies love to take the path of least resistance,” she says. We often fall into the postures we maintain most, and so it takes effort to change our body’s go-tos, she explains.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. “Keep your posture dynamic, keep changing positions, and use posture checks when doing more demanding tasks,” says Ritt.

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