These bad habits create tightness or asymmetry on your muscles that can cause problems.

By News & Views
February 18, 2016
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Always standing the same way or holding the phone on one side? You're creating tightness or asymmetry that can eventually cause problems. Here, advice to tackle some offenders.

1. You carry your bag on one shoulder

Most of us rely on one side to schlep stuff, but constantly stressing those joints will leave you with one group of muscles that are shorter and tighter than the other.

The simple fix: Tote your purse on your right shoulder while going to work, and on the left while coming home, says David Reavy. Or use a backpack to even out the load.

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2. You hold the phone to the same ear

Favoring one ear can lock your upper back and shoulders as you cradle the phone under your head. (Quick trivia: Tend to hold the phone on your left? You're probably right-brain dominant and more emotional. Hold it on the right? You may be more analytical, says Brad Cox, an orthopedic acupuncturist and the CEO and co-founder of Acumobility, a mobility products and education company.)

The simple fix: Go wireless. Use headphones or a headset for every call, advises Cox.

3. You wear heels day and night

We get it—you look ah-mazing in stilettos! But "you need to lower your heel heights so you don't exacerbate poor posture or keep your muscles in a shortened position," says Katy Bowman. "Even if you wear a 1/2-inch heel everyday, you're teaching your calves to stay in that position."

The simple fix: It's fine to wear heels, but make sure you mix in flats, too.

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4. You lean into your right hip, always

Few stand in perfect alignment; it seems only natural to shift to one side. But this may make one side tighter, which can throw off your balance and lead to injury, says Cox. (That's especially true if you run, which requires a constant shifting between the two sides.)

The simple fix: Be aware of which leg you favor, and switch it up whenever possible. Also, stretch and strengthen both halves of your body equally.