This Is Why You Have Bad Posture & How To Fix It

The other day I felt a twinge in my shoulder. At least, I think it’s my shoulder—it’s that spot between my spine and the curve of my shoulder blade, the area I can barely reach and have never figured out how to stretch. (I usually call it my upper back.) It started hurting, as it does most days, and all I could think about was how I wish I didn’t have to sit all the time.

And then I thought, Wow, I’ve spent so much of my life sitting. I sat on the ground playing games as a child. I sat at a desk for 12-plus years of school. I slouched my way through endless lectures at college. I sat down for meals. I sat down to study. And now, as a writer, I sit more than ever. I writhe around in my desk chair for hours trying to find a comfortable position. No matter how I sit, something (somehow) hurts, and no matter how upright I think I am, I’m just not. I see it in photos, and I feel it in my body. My posture is terrible, and it’s taking a toll on my life.

Now to be clear: I’ve had bad posture for years. I was regularly told, “Sit up, shoulders back.” But during those years I did nothing because honestly, nothing hurt. It wasn’t until college that I started having back pain, and I thought it was because I carried a heavy bag (which I would later learn was part of it but not all of it). Perhaps the worst part is that I thought it would go away on its own. I sought out minimal help—a few chiropractor sessions, sports massages, and a brief stint at physical therapy—but nothing seemed to help, so I stopped. And because of that, I still have back pain.