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The Big Slump: Why Our Posture Is So Bad continued...

Hunching over your keyboard, she says, causes muscles in the upper back to stretch and the corresponding muscles in the chest to tighten. This, in turn, pushes the head forward and the ribcage down.

Assuming that posture day in and day out can cause you to not only slump every time you're at your desk, but eventually, even when you're standing, Fleming says.

"Actual structural changes can begin to take place so that ultimately you're slumped over all the time and standing up straight can actually become painful and difficult," Fleming says.

Exercises to Improve Posture: The 1-Minute Solution

Although changing your posture may seem like a daunting task, experts say real change can come about fairly quickly. Novak says you can begin the process in less than a minute, with an "instant" realignment technique for joints and bones.

How's it done? "From either a standing or sitting position, simply lift your sternum, (the breast bone in the center of your chest) up just an inch or two. It will dramatically change what is going in with your posture instantly," says Novak, who details several other similar techniques in her new DVD.

What's going on, she says, is that you're lifting your rib cage up off of your midsection and stopping the curve in the back that takes place when you slump forward. More important, she says "it helps you get your head back over your shoulders where it belongs, plus it takes the stress off of the back and neck muscles."

Novak says doing that one other move each time you find yourself slumping forward will net you some real change in your day-to-day posture in as little as 3 weeks' time.

"If you also add in a motion where you squeeze your shoulder blades together towards your spine, and tuck them down as if you were trying to put them in your back pocket, you'll begin to strengthen the back muscles that will give additional support to your posture, so you may even see results sooner," says Novak.

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