I’m sure we’ve all been told not to slouch at some point in our lives, by parents, grand parents, teachers, etc. When you’re a teen it all seems like something old people say to irritate you and take you out of that comfy position you’re sitting in. But as we get older, I’m sure we all start to see the benefits of not slouching. Back pain is one of the most common complaints people have, and prevention is better than the cure. But having a good posture can also ensure that you get back to having a back that doesn’t hurt all the time.
Amongst other things, good posture:
- Lessens the stress placed on your hips and knees, as well as other joints, muscles and ligaments
- Prevents your back from possibly deforming (e.g. rounded back and shoulders)
- Makes you look more confident and assertive (fake it till you make it :D)
- Helps you feel more confident (try it, just don’t puff your chest out too much, confidence trumps arrogance)
- Makes you look slimmer
- Helps you feel more energetic
But how do we improve our posture? I’m sure we’ve all heard that we should pretend we are being held up by a string attached to our head. Personally, as soon as I get busy and focus on something, every thought and attempt at the pretence that I’m being held up by a string flies out the window. Yes, it does take conscious thought and effort, and I’m sure that the more we try to do it, the more naturally it will come to us, but we need a strong core too. Good strong core muscles will go a long way in helping to correct our posture.
Exercises I find most helpful are, (although there are many others out there too):
- Pilates. Excellent for strengthening you core muscles, this is also a gentle form of exercise where you can choose your own pace and add on reps or variations as you get stronger. It also promotes being mindful about your body and the way you are using it. After only 2 weeks, I already noticed that I stood taller and with my shoulders back, and that was without trying. It had just started to become an ingrained habit, and my muscles getting stronger meant they could support me better.
- Yoga. Also great for ensuring flexibility, strength and mindfulness.
- Exercises that target your stomach and back muscles, provided they are done in the correct form. (e.g leg extensions, back extensions, crunches, the plank pose).
- Get a good chair. If you sit a lot during the day, try and invest in a chair that is comfortable and supports the natural S curve that your spine has. Often these chairs will have extra cushioning at your lower back that will give you the support you need.
- Get a pillow for your back. If you aren’t able to get a good chair, you can use a pillow to create the same kind of support one of those chairs would for your lower back.
- Get a good bed. Get a bed that is firm and not too soft. A soft bed will have your body sink in and offer no support to keep your spine aligned correctly. Make sure that you have a pillow that is comfortable and keeps your neck aligned with your back in a straight line.
- Sleep with a pillow between your legs. This will also help to keep your hips and spine aligned correctly.
- Sit on an exercise ball. Sitting on an exercise ball at your desk will keep your back and core muscles engaged as you’ll need to keep yourself upright and stable. Make sure that the ball is the correct size for you, if its too big and you can’t reach the floor with your feet, it won’t be conducive as a chair for anything you need to be stable for, and you could fall and get hurt, or at least very embarrassed.
- Spread weight equally across your shoulders and back when carrying things. Handbags or groceries that are heavy, especially when carrying them on one side only cause you to lean one way or the other to compensate for the weight. Although we can’t always prevent this, try to distribute the weight evenly so that you can keep your posture in tact and place less stress on the muscles.
Stay healthy and strong everyone, and enjoy looking and feeling better 🙂