3 Stretches That Un-Slouch Your Back (And 9 Other Posture Tricks!)

by DailyHealthPost Editorial

how to improve posture

Growing up you’ve probably been told by your parents not to slouch. And for good reasons! Posture technically refers to how your spine is positioned when you’re sitting, standing, or lying down. Since gravity is always exerting a force on your joints, ligaments, and muscles, this alignment is crucial to avoid overstressing your musculoskeletal system (1).


Weak muscles, being overweight, improper sleeping position, stress, tight muscles, and slouching can all lead to poor posture. The longer you get into the habit, the harder it is to break. Eventually, poor posture can permanently damage your muscles and joints and cause chronic back, neck, and shoulder pain.

If you’re interested in learning about how to improve posture and avoid these problems, read on!


Why Is Posture Important?

Slouching isn’t sexy. In fact, it’s culturally associated with low self-esteem and frailty.

But poor posture also has pretty serious medical consequences too.

These include (2,3,4):

  • Foot, knee, hip, and back injuries
  • Headaches
  • Stiffness
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle atrophy and weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Digestion issues
  • Impingement and nerve compression
  • Sciatica
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Poor circulation
  • Muscle strain
  • Poor digestion
  • Higher risk of joint discomfort arthritis
  • Shallow breathing

Since posture engages the back extensors, neck flexors, pelvic muscles, and side muscles, slouching is the first sign that these muscles are overworked, weak, or injured.

These muscles help keep your joints in perfect alignment and prevent injury to the spine and ligaments (5). They’re the first things that you should work on if you’re trying to learn how to have a better posture.

How To Check If Your Spine Is Straight

Here’s a simple test to find out if you’re standing straight with a proper posture (6):

  • Stand with your head, shoulder blades and buttocks touching a wall, and have your heels about 2 to 4 inches (about 5 to 10 centimeters) away from the wall.
  • Reach back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back, with your palm flat against the wall.
  • Ideally, you’ll feel about one hand’s thickness of space between your back and the wall.
  • If there’s too much space, tighten your abdominal muscles to flatten the curve in your back. If there’s too little space, arch your back so that your hand fits comfortably behind you.
  • Walk away from the wall while maintaining this posture. Keep it up throughout your daily activities.

This only confirms your vertical alignment, so look at yourself in the mirror too.

Are your hips aligned? Does on leg look longer than the other? Are your shoulders at the same height? Is your neck straight? Look straight in the mirror, and make adjustments until everything’s in line.

Stop Slouching

Here’s what your posture should look like throughout the day.


To sit down (7):

  • Adjust the height of your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor or on a footrest and your thighs are parallel to the floor.
  • Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees. Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.
  • If the chair doesn’t support your lower back’s curve, place a rolled towel or small pillow behind your lower back.
  • Stretch the top of your head toward the ceiling, and tuck your chin in slightly.
  • Keep your upper back and neck comfortably straight.
  • Keep your shoulders relaxed — not elevated, rounded or pulled backward.

To stand:

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
  • Keep your knees slightly bent.
  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.
  • Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.
  • Tuck your stomach in.
  • Keep your head level-your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.
  • Shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other, if you have to stand for a long time.

To lie down:

  • Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is important.
  • Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.
  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
  • Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.

How To Improve Posture

These posture exercises will work the muscles you need to keep your spine aligned and straight. Get a better posture with these simple tricks!

1. Walk Out

  1. To gauge how tight your shoulders are, hold onto a door frame with your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in line.
  2. Keep your arms in place and slowly walk your body forward out of the doorframe.
  3. See how far you can go without straining anything, and hold for ten seconds.
  4. Take a break and so 3-5 sets daily.

2. T-Press with Lunge

  1. Repeat the steps of the previous exercise, but this time lunge one leg out in front of you as you move forward.
  2. Make sure to keep your neck in line with your spine the whole time. The farther you lean your body out over your front leg, the more stretch you will get.
  3. Keep that back leg out long with the heel pressing into the floor for an added calf stretch.
  4. Switch legs, rest and do 3-5 set

3. Hanging Shoulder Stretch

  1. For this one, stretch your shoulder and get them nice and loose
  2. You will again begin holding onto the doorframe, but you can play with the height of your arms by going above your shoulders in a “Y” position, into a level “T” position, or low into an upside-down “V” position. Be careful how far you lean out in the next step because you will have to use your strength to pull yourself back up.
  3. Hold on tight as you walk out of the doorway, and then let your body lean forward until your arms are straight. Keep your core pulled in, and remember to breathe.
  4. Take a break and so 3-5 sets daily.

4. Core Contractions

  1. Lie on your back, with your legs bent to about 90 degrees at the knee, and your feet on the floor.
  2. Pull your belly button towards your spine and holding it at the end. Breathe normally.
  3. Hold for ten seconds, repeat eight times. Repeat it daily.

5. Double Leg Calf Raise

  1. Stand near a wall for balance.
  2. Place your feet hip-width apart, and make sure your ankles, knees, and hips are in vertical alignment to protect your joints.
  3. Press down into the balls of both feet to raise your body upward. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in so that you move straight upward, rather than shifting your body forward or backward.
  4. Repeat the exercise holding a dumbbell or other weight in one hand. Keep your hand on a wall for balance.

6. Shoulders Touches

  1. Square your posture, head upright, so that your ears are aligned over your shoulders.
  2. Raise both arms straight out, alongside your ears, palms up.
  3. Bend forearms in and back, toward shoulders, in an effort to touch your shoulder blades with your fingertips.
  4. Do ten repetitions with both arms, then alternate ten reps for each arm singularly.

7. Butterfly Shoulders

  1. Square your posture, head upright, so that your ears are aligned over your shoulders.
  2. Raise both arms out to sides at shoulder height, and hold for a slow count of ten.
  3. Slowly lower arms to sides, counting ten as you lower.
  4. Slowly raise arms back to shoulder height, counting to ten as you raise arms.
  5. Do ten reps, constantly checking your alignment with each rep. If ten reps are too many to start, do as many as you can. You should at least feel a slight fatigue in the shoulder muscles.

8. Cat/ Cow Pose

  1. Tilt or stretch your head in all four directions over your shoulders (forward, back, left, right), and gently massage your neck. Avoid rolling in a circle, as it may cause further strain.
  2. On your hands and knees, curl your back upwards, like a cat, and then do the opposite. Think about being able to place a bowl in the hollow of your back.
  3. Repeat the posture exercises a few times each day.

9. Snow Angels

  1. Every morning and night, lie down on the floor, roll up a towel and put it on the floor underneath the curves in your spine.
  2. Make slow “snow angels” with your arms for two or three minutes.
  3. Lie on the ground for one minute after the exercise, and slowly get up.

10. Hip Flexor Stretch

  1. Get in a lunge position with back knee resting on the ground.
  2. Keep your upper body tall and press forward with your hips.
  3. Hold for 3-5 minutes and switch legs.

11. Visualization

  1. When you find yourself slouching, stand up and close your eyes.
  2. Imagine that a string coming from the top of your head is pulling you gently up towards the ceiling. This will help you stand tall with your abs tight.
  3. Go back to this visualization every time your posture isn’t right. Over time, it will come naturally.

12. Tape

  1. As a last resort, ask someone to tape a large X on your back from each shoulder to the opposite hip as you stand tall.
  2. Then make a straight line of tape going from one shoulder to the next. Make sure to use athletic tape.
  3. This will cause a tug on your muscles every time your posture slouches. Replace daily or as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have questions? Look no further!

How can I keep a good posture? I know I should but my back hurts if I maintain a good posture for too long.
Your back will hurt when you first start to change your posture because it activates muscles that might be fatigued. Over time, it’ll be easier and your muscles won’t hurt anymore. Just be patient.


How can I keep my posture straight when walking?
When you’re walking, keep your shoulders back and relaxed. Look straight ahead to keep your chin up and your neck straight. Walk with confidence and the posture will come naturally.

How much time will it take to correct poor posture?
Posture builds up your muscles so you need to give them time to get strong. Like any bad habit, it’ll take a few weeks to break your slouching habit for good. How old you are, how poor your posture is now, and how physically fit you are all influence how long it’ll take your habit to build.

How do I prevent myself from slouching?
It all comes down to accountability and endurance. The most important thing is to remind yourself to keep your posture. Use the visualization technique while you’re sitting, standing, and walking.


Why is it so difficult to stand up straight as I get older?
Bad posture is a bad habit, just as difficult to beat as biting your nails or scratching yourself when you’re nervous. Over time, your body adapts to bad posture because of muscle and joint damage caused by the position. This means that you have to retrain your muscles and ligaments to move in accordance with the new posture. Swimming, yoga, and pilates can help support your efforts as you change your posture in older age.

If you have terrible posture, consider visiting a chiropractor, massage therapist, or physiotherapist for extra help!