If your tight muscles and slumped-forward posture have you feeling years older than you really are, make lifestyle changes to turn back the clock. Poor posture and lack of flexibility can result in back or neck pain, and aside from getting a Quasimodo-like physique, daily activities can become more challenging and your risk of injuries increases. To avoid this, take steps to improve your range of motion and stand and walk tall so you feel more youthful and look your best every day.
Sit in an ergonomic chair if you spend a great deal of your day sitting at a desk. Look for a chair with adjustable height and back and arm rests. Adjust the chair so when you sit your elbows are bent at a 90-degree angle while your lower arms are on the arm rests. Position your tailbone and back against the backrest, bend your knees 90 degrees and place your feet flat on the floor. Your knees should be aligned with your hips. If needed, place a pillow behind your lower back to support your spine or use a footstool to elevate your feet.
Stand up out of your chair, walk around and perform light stretches every half hour. Stretch for about two minutes so that when you sit back down you're relaxed and your posture is refreshed. Avoid sitting for extended periods of time, because this can worsen your posture and result in back or neck pain.
Limit wearing high heels if you spend most of your day on your feet -- put on supportive flats instead. Although they might lengthen your legs and look fashionable, high heels change the way your body is aligned and don't properly support you while standing -- your back and posture can suffer. For additional comfort, stand on a rubber mat.
Incorporate stretching into your workout routine to improve and maintain your flexibility. Stretch at least two to three days of the week. Focus mainly on your shoulders, neck, hips, thighs, calves and lower back. Avoid bouncing while you stretch and don't hold your breath -- breathe as normal.
Participate in yoga classes. In addition to improving your flexibility and posture, yoga heightens your awareness of your body so you're able to quickly recognize poor posture and correct it accordingly.
Strengthen your core with targeted exercises at least twice a week. A strong core stabilizes your torso, which helps improve your posture. Do exercises, such as the plank pose, abdominal crunches and single-leg extensions. Alternatively, take Pilates classes, which consist mainly of slow movements that really target and strengthen your core.
- Always warm up before stretching or doing core exercises -- ride a stationary bike or walk for five to 10 minutes.
- Before taking on a new exercise routine, get your doctor's consent, especially if you have health concerns, injuries or medical conditions.
Kimberly Caines is a well traveled model, writer and licensed physical fitness trainer who was first published in 1997. Her work has appeared in the Dutch newspaper "De Overschiese Krant" and on various websites. Caines holds a degree in journalism from Mercurius College in Holland and is writing her first novel.