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3 Easy Ways to Improve Your Posture


Have you ever stopped to think about how the little moments in your day that you dedicate to preparation can make such a big impact on your overall schedule and life? Taking 3 minutes to lay out your outfit can save you 10 minutes of wondering what to wear the next morning. Reading 1 chapter of a book each night can lead to finishing off your calendar year having read multiple books and feeling accomplished for it. Meditating for even a mere 5 minutes per day can lead to an overall change in the chemistry of your body and leave you feeling lighter and stress-free.

There are so many ways to make a big impact in your life by stealing tiny moments throughout your day. And this is the exact approach you can take when it comes to making positive changes in your health and wellness, most notably, your posture.

I’d like for you to read along with an open mindset and know that the approach here is quality over quantity. That you do not need to spend an entire hour working on your fitness each day to see results. We all have busy lives and I would never want you to see physical improvements as a mundane task, so let’s make the goal as easy as we can with the biggest impact we can see.

Upper cross syndrome

So, let’s dive into the mechanics behind your posture to better understand what is happening. Upper cross syndrome is another way to describe poor posture. It is the more official term to describe text neck or student neck; however, it is not just the neck that is the issue. There are multiple biomechanical changes being seen in the body by your practitioner. What are these changes? You may even notice them yourself: a forward protrusion of your head wherein your chin juts outward, rounding of both of the shoulders and a noticeable rounding of your mid-back.

As depicted in the diagram above, you’ll notice that there is a cross-link between muscles that are weak and those that are tight. This is important to note before correcting your upper cross syndrome, because stretching all of the muscles will not lead to the results you want, nor will strengthening all of them. A balance must be struck in order to find proper alignment.

The rule of thumb? Tight muscles should be stretched while the weak muscles should be strengthened. So as you incorporate the exercises we love for postural correction, think about providing these muscles with what they are lacking rather than throwing multiple movement variations at them at once.

How does upper cross syndrome affect the rest of the body?


The diagram above shows what is happening to the muscles of your upper body when it comes to poor posture, but what about the way in which it is affecting you on a deeper level?

When we slouch and stay slouched for long periods of time, our breathing changes too. Our breath only reaches our chest because it does not have the space to reach any further. The lack of proper oxygen input leads to tight muscles which can lead to trigger points and a buildup of lactic acid in these muscles. Too much lactic acid in muscles not moving often can lead to muscle spasms.

You want your inhale to reach your belly so that your diaphragm is activated. This belly breathing not only helps activate and stabilize your intrinsic core but also provides stability to your lower back muscles and takes a lot of pressure off of the muscles in your neck and shoulders.

To improve your posture means improving your breathing and that, in turn, will kickstart a cascade of positive alterations in your body for proper alignment.


That forward protrusion of your neck is likely the cause of your tension headaches. Tension headaches feel as though there is a tight rubber band wrapped around your head. These headaches tend to start at the base of the skull where 6 little muscles meet, called the suboccipital muscles. That literally translates to, ‘below the occiput’ (the bone at the back of your skull).

These muscles are often tight and overworked and when they are taken to their limit, can be the starting point for tension headaches.

By improving your posture mechanics you are also helping to relieve the pressure on these muscles, thereby decreasing your severity and duration of tension headaches over time.


Eating your meals in a slouched position is not beneficial to your health either. When you sit curled over, the likelihood of having a hiatal hernia is high. A hiatal hernia is when the upper part of your stomach pushes through the small opening of the diaphragm where the oesophagus connects. This can lead to those pesky and common symptoms, such as heartburn and burping.

Your posture can most definitely play a role in the symptoms mentioned above, but I would advise getting a proper assessment by your provider at Urban Wellness Clinic. It is always helpful to know the exact cause as well as any additional steps you may need to take to help diminish these symptoms.

What are the top 3 exercises to help improve posture?

As promised, these exercises are not meant to take up large chunks of your day! Setting aside 5-10 minutes to work on these will eventually set you up for rockstar posture if you stay committed to the process. And I bet once you see how easy these are, you will look forward to this part of your day.

Chin Retraction

3-month prone

Beast plank

A UWC patient case

I have the pleasure of working with a patient who initially came in with a primary complaint of foot pain after an injury as well as a secondary complaint of headaches. Once her foot pain was taken care of we dove further into reasons why she had such severe headaches and why they were so frequent.

Her initial assessment revealed the cardinal signs of upper cross syndrome, which is also known as student neck. This patient is a full-time student in college so she naturally spends a lot of time in class as well as studying for long hours.

During her movement assessment, I noticed her forward head posture and rounding of her mid-back and these patterns carried over into a lot of the rehab exercises we were working on.

Additionally, her suboccipital muscles were extremely tight upon palpation. This only makes sense since she spent a lot of her time studying in bed so her neck would flex forward so that she could see her laptop and books. As we now know, these muscles can trigger tension headaches!

We reviewed chin retractions which were to be done 5x a day for 15 repetitions. We incorporated 3 months prone as that helped with shoulder stability, incorporated length into the neck and also helped her cue her breath down into her belly. Lastly, we built on strength with the beast plank to help activate her intrinsic core, build further shoulder stability and take the pressure off of her neck and pectoralis muscles.

This patient is dedicated to her health and has since progressed her treatment significantly, but these initial exercises were vital to master in order to build upon them as her treatment progressed.

So, as you take those tiny moments to work on your own posture, know in your mind that this is building a strong foundation for you too. That foundation will be the springboard with which you can continue to build strength while also experiencing life without headaches and without feeling that anxious breathing is normal.

My hope is that these exercises make you feel more alive without taking away from the other important aspects of your day. I hope you can join me in focusing on quality movements each and every day for small portions of your time. Remember, self-care comes in so many shapes and forms. This is not any different!

Have additional questions about this topic or other ways in which you can improve your health? Reach out to us at or call us a 212-355-0445.

Yours In Health,

Dr. Monisha Mallik, D.C.