You may have noticed that we’ve become a “forward society,” meaning that between sitting so often and looking at our phones, many people have developed poor posture.
Good posture promotes blood flow, supports your muscles and ligaments and can reduce neck, shoulder and back pain.
In the gym, there is an emphasis on proper positions and the mobility work we do has a positive effect on your posture. Additionally, we purposefully program more pulling than pressing exercises to strengthen back and shoulder muscles and achieve balance. That said, many of us have to sit much of the day, which can still make our posture a little wonky.
A big step to improving posture is simply awareness. So, you should constantly take note of how you are standing and sitting. For instance, when you are driving, be aware when your head starts to creep forward. At your desk, notice if your shoulders are slumped. This awareness can then allow you to make corrections.
So, what are the elements of good posture to be aware of and to strive for?
- Think “straight and tall.”
- Keep your shoulders back.
- Don’t over-arch your back.
- Pull your stomach in.
- Keep your head level.
- Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Feet should be forward (not toed in or out).
When sitting at a desk:
- Keep your feet on the floor, with your ankles in front of your knees
- Make sure that your feet touch the floor, or if that’s not possible, use a footrest
- Ears, shoulders and hips should be aligned.
- Your elbows should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees and held close to your body.
- Use a back pillow or other back support if your chair does not have a backrest that can support your lower back’s curve.
- Your knees and hips should be at 90 degrees.
- Be aware of your head creeping forward.
Beyond awareness, there are some great exercises that you can do daily to improve your posture. Below are two I do on a regular basis and have experienced improvements in my posture from them.
This is something to do while sitting- in the car at a traffic light is my preferred place.
- Look straight forward.
- Tuck your chin to align your ears over your shoulders. This will create a double chin if performed correctly.
- Hold this position for 10 seconds.
- Relax and return to the starting position.
- Repeat 5 to 10 times.
I feel the effects of this one immediately. When I walk away from the wall, I feel much more upright.
- From a standing position, lean your head, upper back, and butt against the wall.
- Place your hands and arms against the wall in the “high five” position, your elbows bent 90 degrees and your upper arms at shoulder height.
- Hold for a few seconds. Relax, then repeat 5 to 10 times.
- Don’t allow your head, upper back, or butt to lose contact with the wall. Also tuck your ribcage, resisting the urge to arch your back to maintain the contact of your arms on the wall.
OK, now go stand out (or up) in a crowd!