Confession: My Posture is Horrible

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Everyone has those things they don’t like about themselves. Feet that are too big or too small, a face that is too round or too long, etc. It’s easy to find flaws when we look in the mirror. Hands down, the thing that bothers me most about myself is my posture--something you’d think I could improve. I’ve tried various things over the years to help correct the problem, but so far, no luck.

It all started in grade school. I was the tallest of all of my friends, and I remember sitting at the lunch table, I always felt like I was looking above their heads. So I would start slouching down to be eye-level with my small friends, and that’s how the horrible posture began…..

I’ve found that there are only two times when I have good posture: one is while I’m running (although I’m not sure why) and the other is when I’m consciously focusing on standing up straight. Looking at pictures of myself, I’m usually shocked at how hunched over I look. I wonder why people don’t tell me that I need to stand up straight. But I think my family and friends are so used to seeing me this way, they don’t even notice.

One of my fitness goals for this year has been to start a regular, challenging strength training program. I was hoping that increasing the strength in my back and shoulders would help improve my posture, because does help a lot of people. Check out Exercises to Improve Your Posture if you’re looking for exercise ideas. I’ve seen other improvements in my body as a result of strength training regularly, but posture has not been one of them.

Do you have suggestions for improving my posture? Do I need to take a yoga class? Try other new exercises? Accept that I’ll never stand up straight again?

What has worked for you?

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Why don't you tell your family and friends to tell you to standup straight. There are some really good ideas, I do remember walking with books on my head thru my house when I was a kid and i did get pretty good at it. I know you can't do this at work but maybe you can!!! :o) Good luck!! Report
Your story sounds like mine. I also was the tallest in my class. My friends were shorter then me. I remember, doing the same, slouching. I wanted to be like them. When I got older, I still did the same. I remember my mom always saying and demonstrating, "Throw your shoulders back, hold in your stomach comfortably." Not so you can't breath. I really try and remember what my mom would say. Now everyone wants to be taller. Now there is no shame in being taller. If you can do it while your young you will alleviate a lot of trouble when you get older. Chiropractic services helped me a lot. Now as I am getting older, guess what? I'm shrinking! Now I want to be taller. Go figure. Report
I know exactly what you are dealing with - its my story too. My posture has been improving over the last 3 years with Maximize Living chiropractic, yoga and also a new thing I just tried - affirmations. I say to myself "I carry myself with confidence" and "I lead with my heart" - these have helped me to consciously straighten up all day. I think half the battle for me of correcting my posture is just to be aware of it. Report
I learned a trick when I was a kid, learning to ride horses, that has stood me in very good stead all my life -- and even in the age of hunching over computers, I still have good posture. I was told to imagine a string tied to the top of my head, being pulled straight up into the heavens. It improved my riding seat, and when applied on the ground, made my posture erect yet relaxed. No hunched shoulders when your head is being pulled straight up! Report
I've also had bad posture all of my life. When trying to figure out why I chronically get shin splints after running even short distances, I discovered that I am heel-heavy. When standing, walking, or running, I place most of my weight on the heels of my feet. I realized that by doing this, I had to round my shoulders to balance my center of gravity. When I consciously place more of my weight on the balls of my feet, it becomes easier to stand up straight. I'm still working on breaking the habit, but slowly my posture is improving. Report
My poor posture has lead to some minor back problems - I went to see the Chiropractor and was given some exercises to do - very simple, butterfly motion with or without weights - also that same basic motion, just using the corner walls of a room push against. I'm not sure what they're called... but the days I remember do them in the morning my back hurts less. Report
I used to have great posture--even though I was taller than most of my peers. However, I developed severe back issues and have had 2 surgeries and I can no longer keep myself standing up straight. I discussed this with my physical therapist and we both recognized that it would reduce my pain considerably to get this problem fixed. He assigned me to another physical therapist to work in a warm pool to exercise. The PT constantly reminded me to hold my tummy in, which made a big difference. We worked hard on core exercises and did a lot of walking in the water. (We also did leg and shoulder stretches as well as strengthening activities.) I continue to do these things everyday--and I'd be a liar if I told you that it is fixed, but I am working at it, bit by bit. I would also love to hear how you are coming along--this is a very important issue. Report
There's been a lot of buzz about the Alexander Technique on the internet lately. I have no idea of what this is, but why don't you check it out? Report
I've had round shoulders all of my life, however I work on my posture by trying to sit and stand up straight. Don't give into the hype that you have to remain this way. I used weights to improve my upper body strength and yoga is a great alternative for the regular jumping up and around. Never accept defeat! Report
the mirror sets a goal Report
I've found that specifically rows and lat pulldowns will help with strengthening the muscles involved in your posture. Also, your pecs may be tight. If you have always had a poor posture with forward shoulders, then your pecs will shorten and you may need to spend extra time stretching them. Hope this helps! Report
I have the same problem with my posture. I think it makes my clothes look bad because my stomach sticks out more. I have tried to stand up straight and my back starts hurting.I have a hump forming already and I'm only 45. Report
I actually found a really great chiropractor and he has helped with my posture and back pain. Hope this helps you!! Report
Two suggestions - one to it the sparkpeople way and set small goals with rewards - and two -- one of your goals could be to square off your shoulders - or pull them back for x minutes a day or how ever you want to do it.
I never thought I had poor posture - but I have one of those friends that have no problem telling you what they feel you should do better - and she pointed out that if I pulled my shoulders back I would stand more erect. In addition - I'm 51 and don't want to become a humped over old lady. Report
I think, just like the rest of the healthy lifestyle, the key here is simply to pay attention. It's hard when you first do it, because you are not in the habit, any more than you WERE in the habit of slouching when you first started to do it. Tell your family and friends to point out to you when you are slouching (if you can stand that - you may actually find it annoying!). And whenever YOU notice that you're slouching, straighten up.

Set an alarm, maybe, for every hour, just for a quick check-in with your body. That way, even when you are on the computer or working on papers or whatever, you will have the audible reminder to straighten up. Keep this up for a few weeks, and I suspect you'll be MUCH more aware of your posture.

-Maya Report
Pay attention! Whenever I feel myself slouching, I remind myself "head up, shoulders down, back straight"!
This does wonders for back pain too. Report
massage can help, and for most people doing the door way pec stretch daily can really help their posture. Weight lifting (with a balanced routine) also helps increase body awareness and reduce slouching. Report
I have the same problem. The best advice I have ever received was to remember that shoulders are part of the back. So, literally sick in my gut and pull the shoulders back. I wish I could remember it because it works. Report
My posture is also horrible. I end up where it actually hurts with every breath I take because of the slouching. I try to sit straight and my back really begins to hurt. Guess I end more strengthening exerises. I WILL start working on this. Report
Ahh... I have the same issue... And it's wreaking havoc with my older shoulders! I'm in PT to strengthen my shoulders and upper back. I have to be VERY aware of my posture in order to correct it over and over and over... (sigh) I'm not sure what else to add that would be helpful. Good luck!! Report
A few months ago i invested in a pair of sneaker called "shape ups" by skechers.
They have helped me to impove my posture. I also purchase a few yoga DVD's and my posture has improved greatly. I find it really hard to do yoga with bad form. Standing tall makes you look like you weigh less than you do. Report
A few years back, I started physical therapy for bulging disk. The techniques they showed me was geared to strengthening my abs and legs. Once you strengthen those to areas, you learn to rely on them instead of your back. Most people are not conscious of their posture. Until I started having back problems, neither was I. Report
For me, moving to Japan for a year was the wake up call. All those skinny Asians who are tiny, but somehow seemed taller than I was. I found that Yoga has helped me a lot, but also, just sitting on the floor. It sounds crazy I know, but I have much better posture when I sit on the floor then when I sit in a chair. Report
I strongly suggest that you go see a resgistered masage therapist. An RMT can assist you with working out not only your back muscles but your upper chest ones as well. Report
I have had poor posture since childhood too. I hate how slouched I look in photos, and it's so true that bad posture adds lbs. Yoga and strength training hasn't worked for me, but I'll keep trying. The thought of having a hunch back is terrifying to me. Report
My Mother used to make us get a broom stick and put it behind us, under our arms and you sat like that while you were wasting your time watching tv or just sitting around, did it most every day for at least 30 min. or so, made a difference to us, none of us have bad posture, and we are in our 50's and 60's now. Report
KMWEST - I like your comment! My grandfather used to jab my mom in the back when she was growing up and used to slouch. She never had to do it to me - just the threat was enough! Report
I totally agree, i have found that since I stopped exerscing my posture has gotten horrible! Report
I've had terrible posture for years and have tried to fix it on my own, but I always forget when I relax. A good way to remind myself to sit up straight has been to balance something on my head, especially at the computer. Report
I have serious posture issues, too, really very serious. Yoga & strength training and especially corpse pose (lying flat on floor & trying to relax spine) are my mainstays. Report
Posture has frequently been one of my own concerns. At the end of the day, I feel all hunched over and this is my telltale that I have bad posture. I've been trying to practice sitting straight in my car when driving the hour to and again from home. Something I've always noticed about horseback riding, my back rarely hurts after the ride and a friend told me that I have great posture when I ride. Excuse to ride more often? Report
Stand up straight and be proud to be tall! Guess that helps you stand tall when you are running, you are happy with yourself. You look great.

Pilates is good for the physical stuff too.

Good luck Report
Pilates and yoga helped me.Ballroom dancing has been a big help also. Report
These are all great recommendations - but what work for me was my mother constantly poking her knuckel in my back when I was growing up (I was always tall - taller than my 2nd geade teacher - yes 2nd - I have the First Communion pic to prove it - and 6'2" by the 8th grade)! That reminds me - I need to my mom and thank her for that! Report
I feel your pain. I am looking into trying yoga. The closest I have come is doing yoga on the wii. Report
I think pilattes and Tia chi are great suggestions, but I also think bra's can be a good fix... until you can physicaly improve your posture! Go to a sotre with a bra fitter and ask them, about bras that support your posture. They can help you remeber even when you are tired, when you tend to slump most... I think all of us tend to slouch at some point in our lives. Of course working on your core muscles will help too! Report
Yoga! Report
Tai chi has REALLY helped me with my posture. Initially, it was just while doing tai chi and then I gradually noticed it had improved while walking, next noticed an improvement while standing and most recently sitting - I've been a looong time sloucher when I sit. Report
My muscle tone is getting worse as I get older. I need to be mindful of this fact and sit up straight; maybe that is why I get unexplained backaches. Norspat I like the idea of using the exercise ball. Hmmmm, wonder if employer would allow this at work? Report
It would be brilliant if you kept us updated with how this is going! I too think my posture is the single worst thing about me. I was the tallest in the class and the first to develop breasts and I didn't have super posture before those two awkward life events. I'm convinced my posture is getting worse and at 28 have the signs of a hump. I've also been getting worse and worse headaches from tension in my neck and shoulders that are direct results of my poor posture. But I've felt for ages like there is no way I'll get it better. Reading the comments from people who say they have improved is so helpful! It would be great if you could share your progress! Report
My chiropractor kept repeating to me "ears over shoulders." I repeat this mantra all the time. I have neck pain due to the strain I am putting on neck from working all day on a computer. Those people in National Geographic with the baskets on thier heads; they can carry a lot more weight with no issues if they keep "ears over shoulders." By not following this it puts undue strain on your neck and the rest of your body. Report
When younger one of my customer ( I was working as a cosmetologist) remarked that I was walkig as if on air :)) I still aim for the same as I get older. Report
I have noticed as I am maturing, that I'm beginning to look a little hum backed, around the top of the back at the neck, I've been seeing a chiropractor - who claims it can be corrected with adjustments, thanks for sharing. Report
I try to sit up straight at work but after a while..Im back to the bad..I may need to try one of the exercises Report
I too have terrible posture... I guess I will try some of these exercises. Report
Pilates on a reformer. I'm in my 2nd week of training and already there's been a HUGE difference. ( Report
I'm glad you've chosen to stand and sit tall. I hope you will blog again in a few months to give us news on your progress. Report
After doing both yoga and pilates for awhile, I was quite surprised one day when my head actually touched the head rest in the car. All this time I though it was just for decreasing visibility or injury prevention in accidents.
P.S. A good fitting bra helps with posture too. Report
Ballet, modern dance, and yogaare fantastic for posture. I've always been the tallest, and modern dance was superb for my improving posture. Report
My brilliant Pilates teacher has really made me aware of my posture. I am fairly short and a good posture makes me look taller and slimmer....Yay! Report