How many times has your mother told you to stand up straight? Have you ever left Richter with the most excruciating back pain after being hunched over for hours studying? While you might be aware that your posture needs some help, you may not know all the other side effects bad posture can have on your body. Luckily, for most people, it doesn’t take too much to fix.
Posture isn’t just keeping your shoulders back and head high—it has to do with how you hold your entire body.
There are two types of posture: dynamic and static posture. Simply put, dynamic posture is when the body is in motion, while static is when the body is still. It’s important to be aware of both.“
Your spine has three natural curves—at your neck, mid back and low back,” says an article in MedlinePlus. “Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them.”
“I also tell my patients if you can see up your nose in the mirror, your head’s too high,” said Shannon Will, PT, DPT and owner of Will Power PT, Sports Physical Therapy in Baltimore, Maryland. “So, I like to say make sure your nose is perpendicular to the ground.”
Bad posture can stem from many habits, such as slouching your shoulders while eating your favorite açaí bowl at the weekly Wednesday market or cradling a phone between your ear and neck between classes. “
The two biggest side effects, in my opinion, are direct pain, pain in the affected area and increased risk of injury,” said Billy Casimir, the head personal trainer at Primal Fit Miami. “It’s no secret bad posture can cause pain, but what’s worse is that bad posture can lead to injury when carried over to exercise.”
While bad posture can lead to injuries in the gym, according to Will, working out is actually one of the best ways to improve posture. “
Exercise is a great way to strengthen your back muscles,” she said, “even just using a band and doing lat pull downs or pull aparts, things like that, that are easy for the shoulders.”
Casimir said his top two exercises are snow angels on the wall and the “Founder stretch,” where your arms are extended next to the ears, and hips are hinged back to create a 45-degree angle. Doing these four to five times per week, he said, can have you feeling almost as good as new within a couple months.“
Getting stronger in the opposing muscles (muscles that work against the active muscles) that are tight is a great compliment to keeping good posture and being pain free,” he said. “If posture is a struggle, I would minimize barbell deadlifts and deep squats.”
Yet, if you can’t seem to drag yourself to the gym, there are other simple tricks you can incorporate in your day-to-day life from the comfort of your home.“
I like to tell my patients every half hour to get up, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, even if you stand up, walk in a circle and sit down,” Will said.
“It resets the body and I think they find better pain relief from that—and it’s easier than thinking they have to be perfect.”
In a poll on Distraction’s Instagram, 54 of the 57 people who responded said that posture is something that they struggle with. Yet, only three said they’ve attempted to fix it.
In January 2022, University of Miami junior Ava Parker posted a TikTok that has since gone viral (like 6.4 million views viral) about getting a posture corrector. This trendy device comes in a bunch of different forms, but generally it wraps around the upper body with straps that pull the shoulders back.
“I initially got it because my back had been hurting for a while, so I thought it’d be helpful,” she said. “I wouldn’t say I have bad posture, it was just something I wanted to work on and help my back.”
While Parker has only used it a couple times, she said her posture has already improved.“
Now, I just subconsciously think about it more, so I correct myself when I feel like I’m slouching,” she said. While this may have worked for Parker, Will said it isn’t necessarily something that she recommends to her patients.“
Posture correctors aren’t really worth the money because they might pull the shoulders back, like if you kind of have a strap on your shoulders, but then your head’s going to jet forward,” she said.
Another more out-of-the-box method students have been testing out is actually an activity that recently came to campus: rock wall climbing.
According to mainphysicaltherapy.com, climbing involves motions that use muscles like the latissimus, rhomboids, middle and lower trapezius that play a role in good posture.
But be careful when taking breaks and “hanging loose,” the website said it can make posture worse.“
This is where the problem lies, because normal resting posture puts your spine in a position called kyphosis,” it said.
“There’s a natural kyphosis in your mid back, but we’re putting that to the extreme when we climb.”
UM graduate student Myles Burlingame said he tried out this unconventional method with his friend, after a gym opened near his house in Orlando.
“After starting rock climbing and other calisthenic back workouts, I noticed a definite change in my posture,” he said. “I was standing up much straighter without having to focus on it.”
“The main thing is that it’s not about perfect posture, it’s about movement,” Will said. “I remember when I graduated [from] Maryland, the director said that sitting is the new smoking. Movement is medicine.”
words_gabrielle lord. photo_ emy deeter. design_ keagan larkins.