Stand up straight! Your mom told you this time and again, and I bet you didn’t listen.
Rarely do I see anyone with excellent posture. Most people don’t stand up straight with their shoulders back and core nice and tight. They slouch; they stoop and walk around like the weight of the world is on their shoulders. Why is standing up straight important? Because better posture can create the illusion of looking up to 10 pounds lighter, keep your body in proper alignment, and make you look and feel youthful and energized.
I’ve assessed a lot of personal training clients over the years. Most mistakenly assume that I’m only concerned with their weight and fitness level. Most aren’t aware that one of the first things I assess is posture. In fact, I notice it in everyone I come in contact with.
Posture is more than just the position of your body. It’s also a very telling sign about your attitude about life and yourself.
So how do we get you to straighten up? Making sure you work all areas of the body through strength training is vital, but it won’t necessarily improve your posture. Instead, practicing just a few exercises is part of the formula; the rest is all about awareness.
Here are 2 simple movements for you to practice:
-Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder width.
– Keep your head directly over your shoulders and shoulders over the pelvis (don’t lean forward or backward).
– Tighten the abdominal muscles.
– Tighten and tuck in the glutes.
– Hold for 10 seconds and keep your breathing natural.
– Repeat two additional times.
– Then, bring the feet in just inside shoulder width and repeat. This helps to improve posture while in various standing positions.
Although the movement will feel odd, you’ll become accustomed to it in a week or two and actually begin to feel and see a difference.
Exercise # 2
For individuals who suffer from extreme slouching, stand with your back up against a wall and slightly squeeze the shoulder blades in the direction of the wall while still performing the body mechanics from exercise #1.
Practice these two exercises any time you have a chance during the day, but at least one time per day and preferably several times.
For those with poor posture due to extended sitting, The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides additional tips on proper positioning in an office environment, where many people find themselves seated and working for hours.
Awareness is the key ingredient in improving posture. Make a conscious decision to spend each day completely aware of your posture. When you catch yourself slouching, consciously decide to sit up straight. If you find your abs are protruding and hips thrusting forward, slightly pull the hips back into proper alignment. I have found this “awareness” and “correction” technique to be very effective.
It’s important that our body be in natural alignment in order to reduce stress on the lower back, help joints remain healthy, bring muscles more in balance, and, last but not least, to elevate our psychological and emotional state. Looking slimmer by improving your posture isn’t too bad of a reason either. So listen to your mamma — she always knows best.