Bad back? Top 5 ways to improve your posture and feel happier

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Slouching can make you miserable. Good posture will make you happy and could help lose a stone too

Posture
Experts believe that most of us are suffering from some sort of back problem as a result of slumping, slouching and arching our backs on uncomfortable office chairs.

But did you know that fixing your posture can actually make you feel happier, increase your energy levels and make you slimmer? According to a study from San Francisco State University a collapsed body position will evoke feelings of depression, while maintaining a straight back and chin-up position makes people feel more positive.

Here are our Top 5 ways to improve your posture without having to resort to carrying a book on your head.

Position your computer screen


When we're sat at a computer, we naturally crane our necks forward in a vulture-like position to look at the screen. This can cause tension in the neck, upper shoulders and through the arms.

Solve this by making sure your eyes are level with the middle of your screen and make sure your screen is no further than an arms length away from your face. Next extend your arms by your sides, lift your forearms so that they form a 90-degree-angle and place your fingertips on the desk - this is where your keyboard should sit.

Strengthen back muscles with exercise


Weak back muscles can cause pressure to build-up on the neck and shoulders resulting in painful tension.

Try standing up straight, shifting your ribcage up an inch (by breathing in and straightening up), pull your shoulder blades back towards your spine and press them together and down slightly towards your waist. Hold this for ten seconds and repeat regularly.

Regular stretching, yoga classes and hot baths will also help to keep your back muscles in tip-top condition.

Miranda Kerr Downward dog yoga pose

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Change your shoes often


Wearing heels every day or wearing flat shoes all the time can be equally bad for your posture. Stiletto heels can affect your centre of gravity and change the alignment of your entire body, so it's important that you regularly mix things up to keep your body guessing.

Avoid heavy handbags


Carrying too much weight in one shoulder bag can wreak havoc on your spine. Over time your nerve and muscle tissues are stretched leading to discomfort, tension and even pain. If your shoulder starts to hurt after ten minutes of carrying your handbag this is a pretty good sign that it's too heavy.

Adjust your car seat


Driving for long distances can result in 'driver's posture', where you're naturally hunched over an imaginary steering wheel. Make sure your car seat is positioned so that you can comfortably reach the pedals while keeping your knees at the same level or slightly higher than your hips.

The head rest at the back of your seat should be in line with the middle to your head.

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