Few of us can boast perfect posture. Pain and tenderness after surgery often compound already questionable habits of slouching and poor alignment. The resulting imbalances affect your ability to perform exercises correctly—that is, with good form—which can lead to injuries. Over time, imbalances and poor posture often snowball into back, neck, and knee pain, too. Check yourself in a mirror to see how your posture measures up. We recommend doing this regularly as part of your exercise program. Apply the following tips when you walk, stretch, or do other exercises, too.

Neutral position—a term used by exercise experts—essentially means not deliberately tilted forward or backwards. When your wrist is in a neutral position, for example, you hold it firm and straight as a pipe. Your spine has natural curves even when in a neutral position. Keeping your hip bones in line over your pubic bone, rather than tipping your pelvis forward or backwards, will help you hold your spine in a neutral position. Good alignment is important, too. That means shoulders even and hips even. As you look downward, you should notice that your knees, ankles, and toes fall in a line, regardless of whether your feet are together or apart.

Establish Your Baseline: Walking

You can decide whether you prefer to count minutes or steps:

Minutes. How long are you able to walk without tiring? Go out for a walk for three days, counting minutes each time. Add the totals and divide by three to reach your average.

Steps. Clip your pedometer onto your hip when you get up in the morning and wear it all day to record your total number of steps. Over the course of three days, add up your total steps per day. Divide by three to get the average number of steps.