Years ago a good friend of mine was a Navy rescue diver (AIRR – aviation rescue swimmer). He still maintains a military posture without even thinking about it. He has had people he doesn’t know come up and ask him what branch he served in. They can tell by his stance and posture that he was in the military. For years I have had this unscientific theory that if I keep my back straight and my head above my shoulders I won’t get a curved spine. I think we all know there are many reasons to maintain a good posture.
According to Livestrong.com, “Proper posture is important for a number of reasons, including that it places your body in an alignment where the stress on supporting ligaments, tendons and muscles is limited. Poor posture can lead to discomfort and injury.”
We all lead busy, active lives and are looking for ways to simplify wherever we can. Here are ten simple ways to fix your posture.
1. Look in the mirror
An article from Today Health & Wellness suggests looking in a mirror and seeing if your palms are facing your thighs with your thumbs pointing ahead. If so, this indicates good posture. Also, if you pull your head back and move your shoulders down and back, it might feel like you are sticking your chest out, but you are fixing your posture.
2. Strengthen your core
According to the article 6 Easy Workout Moves That Can Help Improve Your Posture, “Exercises that strengthen your core are especially important in encouraging good posture. These muscles move the torso by flexing, extending, or rotating your spine.”
You may already have your own favorite exercises to strengthen your core, but the next few points might offer new ideas for you.
3. Try Yoga
One of my favorite online instructors is Yoga with Adriene. Try this very effective, feel good, short yoga workout Yoga At Your Desk. It’s only six minutes and so beneficial. An added bonus is that the video is only instrumental with words written on the screen. So, hopefully you won’t be bothering any coworkers.
4. Get your squats in
Harvard Health Publications offers these steps on how to do squats correctly. 1) Knees, hips, and toes are pointed forward. 2) Buttocks stay above knee level. 3) Knees aren’t extending beyond toes. 4) Chest is lifted, and shoulders are down and back. 5) Back is neutral, not arched. 6) Feet and knees are pointing straight ahead. 7) Shoulders, hips, and knees are even. 8) Abdominal muscles are pulled in.
5. Do your planks
Sit ups and crunches are out and planks are in. The same article from Harvard Health Publications offers these instructions for effective planks. 1) Abdominal muscles are tight. 2) Shoulders are aligned directly over the elbows. 3) Body is properly aligned so that neck and spine are neutral. Gaze looking down at the floor. 4) Shoulders are down and back. 5) Only toes, forearms, and hands are touching the floor.
6. Give pilates a try
There are all kinds of videos and articles out there about pilates. I found this short video Beginner Pilates Exercises: Roll Up. It’s a good place to start.
7. Check your vertical line
Whether you are sitting or standing, check your body’s vertical line. Are your ears, shoulders, and hips aligned? Is your body in a vertical line? Check this every time you think of it, and your body will thank you.
8. Check in with your attitude
When we are in a good mood and feeling confident, we have a tendency to stand tall and proud. When we are having one of those days when things seem hard and are mental outlook isn’t so hot, we have a tendency to slump. Our hunched over shoulders tell the world our story, or at least what kind of day we are having.
9. The old balloon trick
Most of us probably remember being told this: Pretend there is a sting coming out of the middle of the top of your head with a balloon attached to it. Visualize it pulling your head up. This helps you stand up tall and correct your posture.
10. Get up and move
When we sit for any period of time, our bodies relax and are posture does too. Very quickly our shoulders can become slumped and our backs curved. Set a timer on your watch or get a fitness gadget. (I love my fitbit!) Get moving every 15-30 minutes. Moving will get your muscles in action and hopefully your mind as well, reminding you to employ one of the ideas listed above.
Featured photo credit: Flannel Zen/Zach Dischner via flickr.com