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These 6 Posture Mistakes Make You Look And Feel Older

posture mistakes

When I was a girl, my mom used to chastise me about my posture on a nearly daily basis. I was teased fairly regularly for being taller than the other girls my age, so I started slouching to make my height less noticeable. I tried to explain to my mom why being called “skyscraper” was so much worse than a little bit of slouching, but we never did see eye-to-eye on that point.

But at some point in our lives, we all have to come to terms with the fact that our mothers were right about almost everything. ;-) She was absolutely right to get after me about slouching, because good posture isn’t just about your manners—it’s actually crucial for staying fit and healthy as we age!

And that brings us to today’s blog post, because it’s all about good posture! I’ll start by explaining what good posture actually is and why it’s so important to practice, and then we’ll look at 6 common posture mistakes that we should all work on avoiding in the future!

Related: The Painful Injury You Can Get From Your Phone (& How To Avoid It)

What Is Good Posture?

posture mistakes

▶︎ When Standing

To make sure you know what good standing posture feels like, the Mayo Clinic recommends a simple “wall test.” To do it, stand against a wall so that your head, shoulder blades, and bum are touching the wall.

Next, slide your hand between your lower back and the wall. Ideally there should be just enough room to fit your flat hand in that space. If there’s too much space, you’re arching your lower back too much, and if there’s not enough space, you probably aren’t arching it enough.

If your standing posture could use improvement, use the wall test often to remind yourself how you should be standing.

posture mistakes

▶︎ When Sitting

When sitting, you should have both feet on the ground and your hips and knees should be level with each other. Keep your ankles slightly in front of your knees, and avoid crossing your legs for long periods.

And even if your sitting posture is picture perfect, it’s important to get up every once in a while and walk around!

posture mistakes

Why Is Good Posture Important?

Reason #1 – Fewer Headaches

If you get headaches while sitting at your desk or working on a project, poor posture may be to blame! Unless your back is properly aligned, your neck can tire out from supporting the weight of your head. Fatigued neck muscles can send “referral pain” to your brain, resulting in painful tension headaches.

Reason #2 – Better Breathing

If you’re hunched over all the time, you’re probably not breathing as deeply as you should be. Your lungs can’t fully inflate when you’re hunched over, which means less air in your lungs and less oxygen in your blood. Your body needs oxygen to function, so it’s important to stand (or sit) up straight so you can breathe deeply.

Reason #3 – Improved Confidence

Keeping your back straight and your shoulders back isn’t just good for your back—it can do wonders for your confidence too! In a 2009 study, researchers found that participants who were told to sit up straight were more likely to stay consistent in their responses to a self-assessment than those who were told to slouch.

This suggests that practicing good posture could have a positive influence on your confidence in your own thoughts and feelings.

Reason #4 – Easier Digestion

In addition to reducing your lung capacity, poor posture can also compress your other organs, including your digestive system. Sitting up straighter (or better yet, going for a walk) is an easy way to reduce symptoms of digestive distress and keep your digestive system working properly.

Reason #5 – Less Back Pain

Chronic slouching is one of the most common causes of back pain, because it puts stress on your spine, compresses your nerves, and can even restrict blood flow. Improving your posture can alleviate all of these issues, but working on your posture may be tiring at first if your muscles aren’t used to it.

However, as you continue to practice good posture, your spine and core will get stronger, and both the fatigue and back pain will eventually disappear!

Now that you have a better idea of what good posture is and why it’s so important to practice, let’s explore a few of the posture mistakes that many of us are unwittingly making every day! Avoiding these 6 mistakes will go a long way toward helping you improve your posture and keep your back and shoulders strong. :-)

6 Posture Mistakes That Are Making You Look And Feel Older

posture mistakes

1. Cradling Your Phone In Your Neck

We’ve all taken a phone call when our hands were full by cradling the phone between our head and shoulders. But this is a bad habit to fall into, because it can contribute to permanently hunched shoulders over time!

In the future, make sure to use speakerphone or a hands-free headset or headphones to take calls when your hands are occupied. Your back and shoulders will thank you!

posture mistakes

2. Working On The Couch Or In Bed

There’s nothing wrong with vegging out on the couch or in bed, as long as you keep your laptop out of the equation. Looking at a computer screen in a reclined position is almost guaranteed to put strain on your neck or back, causing pain and even permanent hunching over time.

You’re better off doing your work at a desk or table where you can sit up straight, and reserving the couch or your bed for relaxing!

posture mistakes

3. Sleeping On Your Stomach

Not all sleeping positions are created equal, and some are worse than others when it comes to your back. Sleeping on your stomach is particularly problematic, because it places strain on both your neck and lower back.

If possible, try sleeping on your back with a pillow under your knees, or on your side with a pillow between your legs. Either of these positions will keep your back and neck properly aligned while you sleep.

posture mistakes

4. Bad Lifting Technique

It’s not just professional weightlifters who need to use good lifting technique! Anytime you lift a heavy object, you should bend at your knees, keep your back straight and chest forward, and hold the object close to your body.

If you don’t use these techniques, you could easily injure your back and face several weeks of pain and inconvenience while you recover. Nothing makes me feel quite as old as dealing with a back injury, which is why I try to be extra careful when it comes to lifting anything heavy!

posture mistakes

5. Leading With Your Chin

Many of us “lead with our chins” when we sit at the computer, which essentially means we lean forward and look up at the screen with our chin jutting out. As I mentioned previously in this post, this position puts strain on your neck and can cause muscle fatigue and tension headaches.

To avoid leading with your chin while you work, it’s important make sure your screen and chair are properly positioned. Rearrange your setup if necessary to make it so that when you sit in your chair with your back straight, you don’t have to look up or down at your screen.

posture mistakes

6. Poorly Adjusted Car Seat

While it’s important to make sure your work chair and desk are properly adjusted, don’t forget about the other seats you spend time in, like the driver’s seat in your car! Adjust the various settings on your car seat so that when you sit in it, your knees are lower than your hips and your back is straight.

And while you’re driving, resist the urge to lean on the armrest. Leaning over pulls your spine out of alignment, which can lead to back pain and other issues over time.

What’s one way you can work on improving your posture this week?

Jill Nystul Photo

Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Bright Ideas

  • Thanks for the posture info, Jillee – all great points and SO important! I did medical transcription for a few decades, which entailed spending close to 8 hours straight at my computer with my fingers flying. This forced me to develop good posture strategies at my desk to remain pain-free and injury-free over the years. Eventually I ended up using a wireless keyboard on my lap, as it was the best option outside of a hydraulic desk, and I can’t tell you how this saved my wrists and arms. No carpal tunnel ever in over 30 years of daily transcription. People need to get inventive and discover what works for them, even if it seems out of the ordinary. Also, as you pointed out, keeping your computer in a position at eye level is key to avoiding headaches, neck strain, and injury. If I’m working on my laptop on the couch or in bed, I use a pillow or tray to bring it exactly to the right position so I’m looking directly at my screen. As far as sleeping with a pillow between your legs, this can often lead to hip and back pain for some. That’s been my personal experience at least and that of some other friends I know. What works for some may not be for all. Again, discover what works best for you personally! Just my 2 cents! : )

  • How right you are Jillee about posture! When I went to physical therapy a few years ago with back and hip problems the first thing they had me work on was my posture. Same thing in the therapy pool. The therapy pool was great and helped me so much. Posture was a real big deal there!

  • Very nice post!
    I actually had a broken spine two years ago and in connection to that, I had to train extra after the healing proces. The doctors tought me exactly, what you are writing about:-)

  • It seems that we need to be mindful of muscle imbalances as well. My neck muscles are apparently tighter on the right side than the left (presumably due to my being right-handed), and I realized in consulting with a PT last year that my head tilts to the right if I don’t make a conscious effort to correct it. Regular stretching of these muscles is also important. As goes the head, so goes the body…

  • Something I have done to help with “leading with my chin” is to get computer glasses made for the distance from where I sit to the computer screen. That makes it much easier to see the screen clearly without tilting my head back, like I do when I have my bifocals on.

  • OUCH!!!! I most definitely needed this today. I do have very poor posture. Thank you for this info. I will certainly try to do better. I know better, just get lax.

  • When I was young my sisters and I would use books on our heads and walk around. The one who kept the book or books on their head the longest had the best posture and walk. That was the oldest sister she had and still has excellent posture. My mom never called her out for bad posture. Mines darn good also :-)

  • My mom used to always nag me about my posture. My problem is the opposite of Jillees. I’m too short. Also another factor which doesn’t help me out is most of my jobs we are required to stand all day unless we are on breaks. Believe me this can really take a toll on ones body too. I would love to ever get a job where I’m not on my feet all day. It’s just very physically demanding.

    • I imagine this can be hard on the feet, legs and back, especially if the floors are really hard. Would some Danskos or other good walking shoes help?

      • Update. I actually was recently diagnosed with Arthritis in my feet. I actually had to go to a Podiatrist and get special Orthotics shoes. It was kind of a long process. First pair didn’t fit right. My feet are finally feeling better. I’m still working on getting a job that doesn’t involving being on my feet all day.

    • I try to wear good sneakers when I’m at work. The floor at work has concrete underneath the tile. It’s not exactly the best on our joints for standing all day.

      • Christy, one thing that helps is to change you shoes during the day. It really helps

  • When I was young, I wanted to be invisible and kept years of folding myself into a bad habit of posture. These tips are great but will take time to get rid of my old probs,

  • So many good points. I have a hard time at my work station. To get my arms at the right level, it puts my sitting at the wrong level, so then I slouch. If I do sit properly, I have wrist pain, and/or lean on my arms. I have problems with my wrists anyway (not from this job.) I have to choose which body part to favor. I should talk to someone about options!

  • I agree about muscle imbalances. One of my teenage Nieces had been having awful headaches for awhile. I’m not sure exactly what it’s called. It turned out that her jaws muscles are tight – which was causing the problem. The doctors are having her wear a strap under her chin at night to help the muscle for a few months to try to loosen her jaw muscles.

  • i have been told many times to pull your shoulders up and back and then relax them. either standing or sitting. this will help open up your chest and neck and give you a good posture.

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