Look Thinner in an Instant
Your guide to better posture
What Does Good Posture Look Like?
"There's something called 'ideal posture', and then there's the posture
you normally see," Breibart says.
Millar concurs, estimating that 80% of the adult U.S. population could stand
to improve their posture.
"In ideal posture, everything is lined up -- from the top of your head
to the toes of your feet -- so that you're not having to resist gravity in a
way that exhausts the body," Breibart tells WebMD. In this more suspended
state, you should feel weightless, she says.
How do you achieve ideal posture?
"Think of pulling the entire body up, as with a string," Millar
advises. From a side view, that invisible string would follow right behind and
through the ear, just behind the midline of the neck, down through the shoulder
joint and the hip joint, then slightly in front of the knee's midline, and in
front of the ankle joint, explains Millar.
How can you tell if you're doing it right? "Look in the mirror. You
can't fix your posture unless you can see it," Breibart says.
You may be shocked to see what's staring back at you.
Why We Slouch
When you consider modern-day living, our often-poor posture comes as no
Some of our daily habits promote "side-to-side imbalances," in which
one shoulder is forced higher than the other.
"We're carrying laptops and large purses on the same shoulder, with cell
phones squeezed in between the ear and the shoulder. Or we're sitting in our
cars with cell phones crouched in our ears. All these things create
side-to-side imbalances," says Michele Olson, PhD, professor of exercise
physiology at Auburn University and a spokesperson for the American College of
Other habits -- like long stretches in front of a computer screen or behind
the wheel of a car -- leave our spines stuck in a forward-hunching
Simply changing how you sit in front of our computer can do wonders for your
posture. Millar suggests the following: sit with your trunk erect, not leaning
back or slouching forward; uncross your knees and bend them at a 90-degree
angle; line up your head over your shoulders; and keep your eyes level with the
If you want to improve your posture plus strengthen your trunk muscles while
staring at the computer screen, Olson suggests forgoing the usual desk chair
and sitting on an inflatable physio ball (also called an exercise ball).
"These balls help prevent trunk muscles from getting lazy because you're
forced to use them to keep you upright," Olson tells WebMD. "They also
help us naturally relieve the joints of undue stress. "
Mistakes Active People Make
A sedentary lifestyle isn't the only thing wrecking our posture. You can
find plenty of bad posture at your local gym, too.