Always Slouching Over Your Computer? A Doctor Explains How to Break the Habit

Between the Netflix marathons and hours spent hunched over a screen, many of us have posture in dire need of professional help. The good news? "It's never too late to start paying attention to our posture or to help maintain the muscles that give us good posture while sitting," Nancy Yen Shipley, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon in Oregon, told POPSUGAR.

To strengthen your posture, it's important to sit with your back straight and your shoulders back. "Doing this will help correct the alignment in the cervical and thoracic spine, or the neck and upper back, into a more natural and anatomic position," she explained. "Also, be sure to keep your feet firmly grounded, not dangling. This will put less strain on the surrounding muscles, ligaments, and joints."

Admittedly, sitting up straight is easier said than done. But Dr. Shipley suggests this very simple method for getting into the habit: roll your shoulders forward, up, and then back. While you may be tempted to skip that first step, bringing the shoulders forward first allows for a fuller range of motion and a good stretch. Plus, you'll feel a noticeable difference between slouched shoulders and the proper position, which is an important lesson to learn. "Having a well-aligned spine can help decrease the wear and tear on the joints and prevent fatigue, as well as aches and pains in the back," Dr. Shipley said. "Your muscles will be working more efficiently, meaning less overall pain or discomfort."

Remember, preventing lazy posture is something you have to work on constantly — so, make sure to stretch and do hourly check-ins to correct your posture when it starts to slip.