5 posture mistakes a chiropractor would never make — and how to fix them

Poor posture and spine alignment can also negatively impact other areas of the body.

Bad posture. Rearview shot of a young woman experiencing neck pain while working out
Here's why you should familiarize yourself with your posture — and the mistakes you're making.

Canadians need to straighten up — their backs, that is. Over the past few years, the rise of working from home has exacerbated poor posture, launching many into a world of pain. Discomfort is the main symptom that people notice as a result of poor posture, but ultimately, slouching can have negative impacts on a variety of bodily functions.

If you're looking to overhaul your posture, we asked Toronto-based chiropractor Dr. Naeha Sareen from Peak Rehab, for 5 of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to posture, and what to do instead.

Mistake #1: Not being conscious of your posture

Sareen says that this is without a doubt one of the biggest mistakes people make. The doctor says that posture comes from our habits — so for her it's more about remembering to correct your posture than anything else.

She also says many people don’t realize just how bad their posture is. The first step? Simply to become conscious about how you're holding your body. Once it’s in your mind, you will find yourself doing regular checks on your posture throughout the day. However, Sareen adds, that may not be enough — so it's a smart idea to enlist additional support from a friend or family member.

Shot of a young businesswoman experiencing back pain while using a laptop at her desk in a modern office
Many people aren't even aware they have bad posture.

How to fix it: Having something, or someone, to keep you accountable will help. If you have a partner, colleague or friend that you spend a lot of time with, ask them to remind you of your posture throughout the day to keep you in check. Alternatively, if you work from home or spend a lot of your time solo, try investing in a back support to help you get started.

Mistake #2: Having a workspace that contributes to bad habits

Workplace ergonomics — like laptop stands and specialized office chairs — can have a massive impact when it comes to proper posture. Over the past few years, Sareen says that many of her patients’ postures have gotten considerably worse, and working from home plays a big part in that. Working from the couch, an old chair, or your bed can be detrimental to your posture.

But your desk isn't the only place you need to be conscious of your posture. Whether driving is part of your job or you're back on the road commuting to an office, having an improper setup in the vehicle can greatly contribute to bad posture. For instance, according to Sareen, leaning on the wheel takes the spine out of its neutral position and can put additional and unnecessary pressure on muscles and joints.

How to fix it: Sareen recommends proper ergonomic measures, like a desk, keyboard and chair, wherever you're working from. She also recommends taking regular, scheduled breaks in the workday to counteract the impact of being sedentary for long periods.

Mistake #3: Jumping right into exercise

If one of your 2024 resolutions was to be more active, you'll want to take note of this one. While it is great for your overall health to get moving, Sareen says it's crucial to stretch before and after working out.

“We have to stretch – we do not stretch enough," she says. "It’s one of those things that’s tedious, it’s boring, it takes time, it hurts because you’re pushing yourself. But every single person should be stretching.”

The expert also says that when exercising, many people neglect their core muscles — often because you don't see results as quickly.

Woman working out
Jumping right into exercising can negatively impact your posture.

How to fix it: Some stretches she recommends that will contribute to a better posture include bird dog, cat camel and planks.

Sareen explains that when you train your core muscles, you are strengthening the area around the spine, providing additional support, and making it easier in the long term to sit up straight. She adds that neglecting the core can also actually contribute to other injuries.

Mistake #4: Ignoring total body impact of poor posture

Proper posture and spine alignment can have measurable impacts on other areas of the body — and maintaining good posture is important for overall health.

Studies show that slouching can contribute to digestive issues such as constipation and heartburn, as well as incontinence. It can also contribute to poor balance, headaches, and breathing difficulties. Sareen explains that when the body is hunched over, it reduces lung capacity because the chest cavity is being compressed.

How to fix it: Learning and educating yourself on the overall impact can help shift your mindset to understand the importance of sitting up straight.

Mistake #5: Thinking poor posture is irreversible

The good news? Poor posture is completely reversible.

With practice and greater attention to it, Sareen says that anyone can improve their posture. She says that posture is more about your mind than your body — so awareness is key.

How to fix it: Once you have posture on your mind, you're essentially training your body not to slouch — and over time, that will become your natural setting. A combination of strengthening the core, being more cognizant of your body, and stretching is a great place to start and will help contribute to a better posture over time.

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