Many people wonder how to have better posture so they stand taller. But the benefits go far beyond that. Superficially the waist looks thinner and your look more confident, but putting your skeleton into a better position allows blood and oxygen to flow the way your body is designed. It also eliminates tightness and pain connected with misalignment.
What does better posture look like?
All bodies are slightly different but when we talk about good posture we are aiming for:
- the head stacked over the torso and over the hips like 3 building blocks
- your chest is open and shoulders not hunched forward
- relaxed shoulders, not scrunched up towards the ears
- the arms hang naturally at the side of the body with your palms facing inwards
- a natural S curve in the spine without excessive curvature
The health benefits of having better posture
- When your body stands tall is allows you to breathe better with more oxygen in, and carbon dioxide out. Improved breathing and blood and oxygen flow boost concentration and focus.
- When the spine is stacked correctly the shoulders and hips share their appropriate amount of the load, so no structure is over-stressed.
- Correct posture strengthens muscles. Poor posture further strains sensitive muscles and soft tissues. Sitting and standing correctly, strengthens your core, buttock muscles, and back extensions while relieving unnecessary tension.
- Your lymphatic and circulatory systems are free to flow with ease, allowing for good blood flow and lymph drainage.
- Good Posture makes you look good. It inspires confidence, as well as make you appear slimmer and taller.
What are the negative effects of bad posture?
- Misaligned musculoskeletal system
- Wear and tear of the spine, making it fragile and injury-prone
- Neck, shoulder and back pain
- Stiffness and reduced flexibility
- Limited joint mobility
- Changes your center of balance, increasing the risk of falling
- Changes the placement of internal organs making it harder to digest food and breathe
The curse of the computer back
In this day and age where many of us spend the majority of our time sitting at a computer or desk, it also means much of our day is spent with our spine in flexion (bent forward).
Ideally changing your position every 30 minutes is ideal. Even better is to get up and go for a short walk. Can you have a standing desk? Or look at what you’re sitting on. Is the chair ergonomic, or is the option of something less traditional like a ball possible. The less stable ball encourages your core muscles to stabilize and makes you sit up properly.
Fit for Work has a great checklist for finding the correct position at your desk
Schedule some exercise. Check out the Fit Chick Express workouts for short do anywhere bursts of movement.
Visualization for better posture
There are plenty of great exercises to help with posture, including core stability, building strength in the back muscles and mobility throughout the shoulders. But one of the best ways to improve posture isn’t necessarily done on a mat or in the gym. It’s done in your usual everyday life so there are no excuses for not implementing it.
Imagery is a great way to help change your posture, it’s just a matter of finding the right imagery that works for you. It can be done anywhere, walking down the street or just sitting at work.
After many years as a ballet teacher and gym instructor, some of my go-to imagery to help clients and students include:
- Imagine you’re hanging from a string from the top of your head, let everything else fall down from that point. Pretend you’re a puppet on a string.
- imagine you’re being sucked up a straw, like a chocolate milkshake. This suggests lengthening up from the head and dropping the shoulders down.
- tuck your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
- visualize someone physically brushing your shoulder blades down and brushing your tummy muscles up at the same time. It helps to physically try this with your own hands to be able to understand the feeling.
- imagine you’re wearing long dangly earrings, make sure you don’t squash them with your shoulders. Be tall and show them off.
- Visualize there is a helium balloon attached to the top of your head, lifting you up.
- imagine someone is picking you up by the ears.
- Pelvis is the Latin word for basin or bucket, imagine your pelvis is full of water, make sure you don’t tip any out. Stand up nice and straight, don’t tip the water out the front.
Exercises to help with better Posture.
Upper body lift
- Lie on your front on the floor with arms and legs extended out in a Superwoman position.
- lift the belly button towards the spine so the back doesn’t arch into the floor. Keep the chin tucked so your face is looking at the floor and the top of the head is lengthened towards the hands.
- Keep your legs nice and relaxed, don’t let the hamstrings activate as you lift the arms up off the floor and reach forward.
- Pull your hands back towards your hips, squeezing the shoulder blades together, then return the hands overhead.
Any sort of rowing exercise where the back is activated and shoulder blades pulling together.
- Ring row
- Cable row
- Dumbell or barbell row
Either sit on the floor, or in a wall sit. Keep your back to the wall and try and keep your arms connected ot the wall as you slide your arms up and down.
Thoracic Mobility Exercises
Join our Fit Chick Health Coach Community to further the conversation