A Mass General trainer shares strategies for resetting posture to avoid aches and pains.

Good posture is the expression of optimal alignment of our joints. When our joints are in optimal alignment, our bodies move more efficiently. However, poor posture exerts unnecessary stress on the neck, shoulders and back, saps our energy and creates aches and pains that can be avoided.

Because so many of us sit or stand in one place, such as at a desk, all day, our posture tends to suffer. A big part of preventing this is being aware that it’s happening.

Bad posture
Bad posture
Good posture
Good posture

From time to time throughout the day, check in on your posture. If you find yourself slumping in your chair or feel that your hips have stiffened after sitting, try these moves to reset.

Roll-Lift-Tuck Movement

The roll-lift-tuck movement counters the slumping posture. It reverses rounding of both the upper and lower back and forward head posture.

Simply roll your hips forward, lift your chest and tuck your chin. You can think of your pelvis like a bowl of water you want to keep level to prevent the water from spilling out.

Once you set a level pelvic position, it should be easier to lift your chest, tuck your chin and align your ears with your shoulders.

Posture and Your Hips

Along with promoting a slumped posture, sitting for long periods also stiffens the hips. Tight hips can cause low back or knee problems.

Overhead lateral stretch
Overhead reach

Getting up every half hour or so to stretch goes a long way to ameliorate this. Stand in a split foot stance, with both feet pointing straight forward. Brace your abdominal muscles and push your hips forward. Hold each stretch for three deep breaths per side and repeat throughout the day.

Overhead Reach

Our shoulders and upper back can tighten from a slumping posture, too. This potentially can lead to fatigue, headaches and shoulder injuries. Just like the hips, our shoulders and upper back will appreciate regular stretching.

The overhead reach targets the shoulders and upper back. Take a shoulder width stance and bend your knees slightly. Reach overhead with both hands and brace your abdomen. Take a deep breath and tilt your shoulders to one side as you exhale slowly. Perform two to three times on each side and repeat throughout the day.

Maintaining good posture takes some effort and awareness, but the benefits are worth it.

You will feel better, appear confident and reduce your chance of joint problems.

Mike Bento is an advanced trainer at The Clubs at Charles River Park and Massachusetts General Hospital. He holds a master’s degree in human movement and is certified by the National Academy of Sports Medicine as a corrective exercise specialist and performance enhancement specialist.