How to Improve Your Posture (and Not Look Like Gollum)

If the modern dude doesn’t start strengthening his posture, he’ll look 80 years old by the time he’s 40. Since we’d rather look like Don Draper than Gollum, let’s start correcting our alignment.

We all know good posture is important, but like healthy eating and regular exercise, the practice is less than sexy. It’s doubly difficult to sit up straight since we’re being conditioned to slouch.

Dr. Steven Weiniger, an internationally renowned posture expert, tells The Manual “the technology we use today is affecting people’s bodies, especially in development. We didn’t spend hours of the day hunched over phones and computers in the past, and this generation is the tip of the iceberg.”

Do You Have Bad Posture?

Text neck, computer back — we’ve all suffered through the pain (and most of us didn’t get cell phones until middle or high school). “Today, we’re teaching our bodies — especially younger generations — to be folded,” says Weiniger. “It’s worse than coal miners who worked during the week because we spend even more time hunching on the weekends.”

bad posture

The gist: People are training themselves to have “old posture,” says Weiniger, who just returned from a panel in Orlando and saw children with bent postures worse than their parents. “It’ll get worse as they get older,” he adds. “When they’re dad’s age, they’ll look like Grandpa. It will be a crisis.”

How Phones F*** up Your Posture

Weiniger explains that our posture is a result of us (humans) balancing on two feet and using muscles to keep that balance. Posture is how we balance our bodies. As it breaks down, so does balance, which is why older people tend to fall more.

phone posture

Posture and balance are built from a few essential body functions that get jacked up thanks to our smartphones. Why?

  1. You need to see what you’re looking at and moving toward it with your head pointed that way. In sports, you keep your eye on where you want your body to go (it’s the same principle for everyday life). Using a phone, your head is down with your face horizontal with the ground, not looking forward.
  2. You must use your hands to move. With your eyes on a screen, you need to type, swipe, and like. This means putting your hands together folding your torso over. Typing on small keys also confines your motor control and locks your elbows and shoulders.
  3. Muscle strength. Your posture dictates which muscles get stronger or weaker to keep your body balanced. Do a ton of folding and you’re molding the soft tissue between your muscles to stretch and shape into a flexed position.

“It’s a vicious spiral because you get better moving with weak posture,” says Weiniger.

How to Improve Your Posture

We’ve all been programmed from habitual Tinder-swiping, email-checking, and candy-crushing, so our perceptions of what standing up straight really looks like have been warped.

“You’re probably not sitting as tall as you think when you remember to practice good posture because the sensory nerves telling you what your body is doing have a new perception of ‘tall,’ says Weiniger.

Start buffing up your posture by figuring out what is actually good posture. It’s easy.

There’s an App for That

how to improve posture posturezone

Download the app PostureZone and take a photo of you “standing up tall.” Press “Improve” and the app will reveal structural imbalances and asymmetries causing your strains and aches. In six months (after practicing the everyday tips below), take another photo and track your progress. (Make it your new year’s resolution!)

Daily Tips for Strengthening Posture

Other ways to easily strengthen your posture every day include:

  1. Put a post-it on the top of your laptop or computer that says, “Sit taller, sir.”
  2. Get a good posture book and skim a page or two every night before going to bed.
  3. Swap your office chair with an exercise ball or chair that tilts forward.
  4. Grab one of those posture straps.
  5. Lift your damn phone when you text!
  6. In fact, lift everything you see or do to your eye-level and format your world and experiences in line with your precious posture. (My precious.)
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