The way we sit and stand sends a message to the world. When you’re hunched over with your shoulders rounded you look tired and depressed. When you’re lifted with an open chest, shoulders and back you convey confidence, poise, and leadership. A bonus to improving your posture is that you can look up to 10 years younger and 10 pounds lighter!
Here are 4 easy steps to improve your posture:
1. Correct forward head position
Is your head stacked over your shoulders? How often does your head touch the headrest while driving? This common alignment is caused by weak neck muscles and too much time at the computer, watching tv, and driving. Strengthen the muscles in the back of your neck by gently pulling your chin in like you’re hiding behind a tree.
2. Unroll rounded shoulders
The shoulders roll forward from too much sitting at the computer and at a desk. Driving also challenges the spines alignment especially if you’re in a rush or in heavy traffic. Rowing exercises with a resistance band, the Pilates Breast Stroke, and Mountain Pose from Yoga can all help unroll rounded shoulders but also strengthen the muscles in the back that support this posture.
3. Neutralize tilted hips
Do you have a “sway back”? When the abdominal muscles are weak they offer little support to the spine and can result in over-extension in the lumbar spine (lower back). From the side it might look like the pelvis is tilted forward. Try the “belt check”! Imagine that you are wearing a belt and if the buckle is higher or lower than the back of the belt make them level. Also try core exercises like bridge and hamstring curls with a stability ball.
4. Strengthen your core
Poor posture is often a sign of weak core muscles. Your core includes the muscles of the torso and they hold you upright! Lower back pain is the most common symptom of a weak core. Try plank exercises, back extensions, and the Pilates bird dog.
Improving posture takes time but the first step is awareness. For a quick postural self-assessment stand sideways and look in a full-length mirror. Try to stack your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle in a perpendicular line. Maintain that alignment and take a few steps. You will look like a new and improved version of yourself!