9 Ways to Improve Posture and Alignment

Good musculoskeletal alignment and posture keep the body comfortable and help optimize physical movements. But if you do most of your activities of daily living with poor body mechanics, you can experience pain, muscle spasms, and you could be susceptible to injuries.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage your posture and maintain good physical alignment. These practices can help keep your bones, joints, muscles, and spine healthy.

What Is Ideal Alignment?

Woman practising yoga lunge exercise
Ruth Jenkinson/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

Good posture comes from being upright against the force of gravity so that your bones fit properly with one another at their respective joints (places where bones connect). The way the bones fit in relation to one another and to the whole body form is referred to as alignment.

Posture experts have described ideal alignment in terms of the location of body parts used as landmarks, relative to a vertical plumb line that runs down through your center.

Ideal postural alignment causes the least amount of musculoskeletal pain and strain.

Yoga for Alignment

Reaching for a healthier future
PeopleImages/Getty Images

Yoga can help you build strength, balance, and awareness of your body position. It is an ancient holistic system based on poses and the achievement of peace of mind.

Select a class that is conducted on a level that feels comfortable for you.

Strength Building Exercise

Good muscle strength is an important part of maintaining healthy alignment. Things like carrying grocery bags or taking out the trash can cause you to lean over in a position that strains your neck and back. If you are getting regular strength building into your weekly exercise routine, you can take care of day-to-day activities without straining your joints and spine.

Massage Therapy

Woman receiving massage
CaiaImage/Getty Images

If you routinely perform activities of daily living with poor body mechanics, live with a lot of stress and tension, or have had an injury, your muscles may be tight.

Many people deal with this type of back pain by getting a massage.

Once you find a qualified therapist with whom you feel comfortable, you may find that relaxing muscles with massage goes a long way toward restoring your postural alignment.

Pilates for Core Strengthening

Man doing pilates exercises
Allison Michael Orenstein/Getty Images

Pilates is an exercise system that works the whole body in alignment, with an emphasis on using the abdominal muscles.

When done properly under the guidance of a qualified, experienced instructor, Pilates may be an excellent way to reduce pain related to posture and alignment issues. With each exercise, Pilates develops strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance. It uses a mind-body approach.

Feldenkrais to Move Efficiently

Woman meditating surrounded by candles
Tetra Images/Getty Images

Feldenkrais is a system of movement that helps your brain release habits of movement that create tension and pain and replace them with ones that align with the natural design of the body.

Feldenkrais is about micro-movements. The emphasis is on the way your brain interprets the instructions to perform a specific movement.

An important component of the Feldenkrais Method is your awareness of what you are doing. To get the benefits of the lesson, you must pay attention to how the movement feels, as this is what causes a shift into aligned movement habits.

The Franklin Method

Woman in seated forward bend practicing mudra yoga
Hero Images/Getty Images

The Franklin Method addresses the relationship between thinking and your body. It uses imagery that is coordinated with the design of the moving body to effect changes in alignment and activities of daily living.

The Franklin Method places a lot of attention on becoming an expert at what you do most of the time: sitting, standing, lying, or walking. In the Franklin Method, you learn how the bones move during everyday actions such as bending or walking, and then apply imagery to help improve ease of motion.

The Franklin Method sees imaging as creative, that is, the effects of any one image will vary from person to person. So the process can be open-ended—you find images to which you respond, by noticing the changes they make.

Tai Chi

Mature man doing tai chi
RUTH JENKINSON/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY/Getty Images

Tai chi combines aligned movement with meditation to help calm and slow you down and limber your joints. Tai chi challenges balance and teaches you how to move from your pelvis. It also helps develop concentration.

Ergonomics

It can seem like too much trouble to constantly think about your desk chair, computer position, pillow, or mattress. But if you're going to spend time working, sleeping, or even relaxing on the couch, it's important to avoid hurting your body while you are doing so. The more you deliberately pay attention to your posture with every activity, the easier it will become.

Consider doing stretches while watching television, or paying attention to how you are holding your phone while you're browsing social media. A little effort to take care of your body can prevent aches and pains later—while building good posture habits.

The Alexander Technique

Woman laying on wooden floor in supine position, head resting on book
Tony Hutchings/Getty Images

Even back in 2008, the British Medical Journal acknowledges that the Alexander technique gets good results when used to control back pain. If you haven't heard of Alexander, it's a holistic therapy that's rather like a lesson on how to decompress your spine.

The format of the lesson is a lot like a coaching session and is aimed at changing the direction your head and neck go when you are not thinking about it. In an Alexander lesson, participants relearn (by doing) ways of moving from sitting to standing. But the focus remains on the neck the whole time

The Alexander teacher is there to guide and remind you to lengthen your neck in a "forward and up" direction, which results in a subtle movement meant to affect your entire spine in a positive way.

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Korakakis V, O’Sullivan K, O’Sullivan PB, et al. Physiotherapist perceptions of optimal sitting and standing posture. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice. 2019;39:24-31. doi: 10.1016/j.msksp.2018.11.004

  2. MedlinePlus. Guide to Good Posture.

  3. Hough P, Nel M. Postural assessment, Part Two: Deviation for sense of, and actual alignment. S Afr j occup ther. 2019;49(3):38-45. doi: 10.17159/2310-3833/2019/vol49n3a7

  4. Hampton AR, Temte EG, Barrett BP. Individually tailored yoga for chronic neck or back pain in a low-income population: A pilot study. International Journal of Yoga. 2020;13(1):70. doi: 10.4103/ijoy.IJOY_23_19

  5. National Institutes of Health. Yoga: What You Need to Know?

  6. Jung S hoon, Hwang U jae, Ahn S hee, Kim J hee, Kwon O yun. Effects of manual therapy and mechanical massage on spinal alignment, extension range of motion, back extensor electromyographic activity, and thoracic extension strength in individuals with thoracic hyperkyphosis: a randomized controlled trial. De Sá Ferreira A, ed. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2020;2020:1-10. doi: 10.1155/2020/6526935

  7. Pivotto LR, Candotti CT, Sedrez JA, Detogni Schmit EF, Resende Da Costa LM, et al. (2020) Effects of pilates method on the posture, postural habits, and neck and back pain of women with temporomandibular dysfunction: A randomized clinical trial. Int J Spine Res 2(1): 014-022. DOI: 10.17352/ijsr.000009

  8. Crivelli D, Di Ruocco M, Balena A, Balconi M. The empowering effect of embodied awareness practice on body structural map and sensorimotor activity: the case of feldenkrais method. Brain Sciences. 2021;11(12):1599. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11121599

  9. Wehner C, Blank C, Arvandi M, et al. Effect of Tai Chi on muscle strength, physical endurance, postural balance and flexibility: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine 2021;7:e000817. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000817. doi: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000817

  10. Little P, Lewith G, Webley F, et al. Randomised controlled trial of Alexander technique lessons, exercise, and massage (Ateam) for chronic and recurrent back pain. BMJ. 2008;337(aug19 2):a884-a884. doi: 10.1136/bmj.a884