Let’s be honest: You probably don’t have great posture. Most people spend a good portion of their days hunched over a computer or phone, or sitting in an uncomfortable office chair. Studies suggest that these lifestyle factors are making our carriage worse—but aside from investing in a standing desk or foregoing electronics, what can the average person do to straighten out their spine?

In the TED-Ed video below, physical therapist Murat Dalkilinç explains why good posture is so important, and what you can do to improve yours. Contrary to popular belief, sitting up or standing straight isn’t simply proper etiquette. The way we hold our body affects how it adapts to stresses like carrying weight, sitting in an ungainly position, and gravity. The worse your posture gets, the harder your muscles need to work to keep you balanced. In turn, they grow tight, and your joints and ligaments are affected as well. Studies have even linked poor posture to scoliosis, tension headaches, and back pain.

Want to improve your stance? Stand in front of a mirror. When you look at your spine from the front or the back, all the vertebrae should appear to be “stacked” in a straight line. The only curves in your back should be at the neck, the shoulders, and at the small of your back, and you should be able to draw a straight line downwards from between the front of your shoulders to behind your hip and the front of the knee, all the way to a few inches in front of your ankle.

Sitting down? Your neck should be vertical—not tilted forward—and your shoulders should be relaxed, with your knees bent in a right angle and your feet flat on the floor. As for your arms, they should hang loosely beside your torso.

Learn more posture tips and tricks in the video below, but at the end of the day, keep in mind that sitting still for long stretches of time is even worse for your health than being active with poor posture. So before settling down to watch it, consider going for a walk first.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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