Improve your posture, improve your health!

To be your best this year, start with better posture! Did you know that your posture not only reflects how you may be feeling, but (this is the REALLY important part) your posture can actually create the way you feel? Improve your posture and improve your sense of well-being. Standing tall and feeling strong can boost your confidence, however, the opposite is also true. Slouching and looking down (classic texting and computer postures) can leave you feeling weak and depressed.

The negative effects of poor posture include neck and back pain, nerve impingement, headaches, degenerative joint changes, reduced lung capacity and muscle tension/weakness throughout your body. However, these symptoms can be reduced or eliminated when you improve your posture and maintain the natural curves of your spine. Spinal curves protect your body from injury, keep you flexible and help you move in the most efficient way possible.

Whether you are sitting, standing or moving, having a focused intention set on maintaining good posture is key for keeping your body healthy. A properly aligned body with optimal posture keeps your back and neck pain free, allows for better breathing and makes all movement more effortless. Keep these simple tips in mind throughout the day and gradually better posture will require less mental attention as your body adapts to the changes you are making.

How to correct your posture:

Find your optimal posture first in standing, (it will be easier) then try it in sitting and then incorporate good alignment into movement. These alignment tips will make sure you are maintaining the natural curvature of your spine – not too flat or too rounded.

1. Keep your head centered over your ribcage.

How to:  Find a balanced position of your head by moving your head forward in front of your body and backward behind your body 2-3 times and then let it settle somewhere in the middle where it feels as close to balanced and weightless as possible. Now, imagine a balloon connected to the crown of your head as it gently pulls upward and “floats” above your shoulders and your neck lengthens.

2. Find a neutral alignment for your shoulders.

How to:  Stand with your arms by your sides and your palms facing your thighs. Now, rotate your arms from the shoulder joint so that your palms face forward. Feel the widening of your collar bones and the opening across your chest without the need to squeeze your shoulder blades together. (Is your head still over your ribs? Just checking.) Keep that feeling of “smiling” across your chest while rotating your arms back so your hands face your thighs.

3. Keep your rib cage balanced over your pelvis.

How to:  Stand tall and round your trunk forward slightly without moving your pelvis and now arch your back, again without moving your pelvis. Move your trunk back to the center where it feels balanced, your lower ribs should not be flared forward or collapsed in and your sternum (breast bone) should feel vertical. Imagine little “suspender straps” connecting your ribcage to your pelvic bones, keeping your torso in good alignment.

4. Balance your pelvis over your lower extremities.

How to:  Stand with your hands on your pelvis, fingers forward and thumbs toward your back. Imagine your pelvis as a “bowl of water” and the goal is to keep any water from spilling out. To find your neutral position, tilt your pelvis forward so your fingers reach toward the ground and you have an increased curve through your low back. Then tilt backward as if you are tucking your tail between your legs and your low back flattens out. Now, untuck your tail and tilt your pelvis back toward the center where you feel balanced and your imaginary bowl of water will not “spill”. The position of your pelvis during movement or static postures has a huge impact on body alignment and muscle function throughout the rest of your body. Striving to keep your pelvis in a neutral position will reduce tension through your back and assist in keeping the natural curves through your spine – all leading to improved and more efficient movement.

Keep these tips in mind throughout your day. Be your best self this year by improving your posture – you will find your spirits lifted and that you feel better in your body. Stand tall, stay balanced and be more confident!