It turns out that our mothers and grandmothers were actually right to tell us to sit up straight! Yes, good posture is actually good for your health – it improves confidence and decision making, improves breathing and digestion, and can even make you look like you’ve lost 3-5 pounds! Learn why it’s important and how to get it in this post and video!
I used to have great posture!
Growing up as a dancer, posture was key to everything we did. If the neck or shoulders look stiff or tight, everything is thrown off in dance! I was taught how to stand at the barre with our shoulders rolled down and back, chin pushed back into the neck, and to lift our heads up to the ceiling. I knew it was important for dance, and the training carried over into my everyday life and I always had good posture.
And, then…I had kids
All of that weight in my belly splayed my ribs open and weakened my abs. It was a struggle to keep those shoulders down and back. And then came nursing! I had such a sore neck and upper back from nursing, all of those hours trying to figure out how to get those babies latched on without killing my poor nipples! (Why is something that’s so natural so incredibly hard to learn? I’ll never understand that one!)
Time to get my body back!
So now that we’re done having kids and I’m really focusing on getting my body back, I’ve been realizing just how much I’ve let my posture go, and how my weak abdominal muscles have gotten from a diastatic recti (nope, it’s not a rectal dysfunction, it’s when the abs separate during pregnancy and don’t go back together. Read more here.) While I work on doing my exercises to heal my abs, I’ve been building my upper body strength (see those exercises here) and finally have the strength back in my upper back and shoulders to be able to sit up straight. I honestly wasn’t able to before because I’d lost so much muscle tone! Yikes. Thankfully, that’s easy enough to fix!
Benefits of good posture?
- Improves digestion
- Gives you an instant confidence boost for yourself and others
- People will take you more seriously – when you have good posture, you exude confidence and poise. You might find that people respond better to you or listen more closely when you talk!
- Helps you to breath more deeply, which can help reduce anxiety, brain fog, stress and many other things! (oxygen is pretty important, yo)
- Gives you an instant tummy tuck! Seriously, you can look 3-5 pounds lighter with good posture.
- Helps you to have proper spinal alignment. This will reduce muscle fatigue and strain caused from improper alignment
- Reduces back and neck pain – for me I’ve really found this to be true!
- It actually changes our hormone levels, helping us to feel more powerful and strong!
- Prevents back injury, especially when you use proper posture and alignment while working out and lifting heavy objects
Hunchback of Notre Dame anyone?
Good posture is especially important in our times when we spend a lot of time hunched over computers and our phones. I worry what our backs will look like when we are 80 – like the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Yikes!
I know one thing is for sure – I’d like to delay the pain a curved spine like that will cause in my old age, especially if I can help it now.
Here’s a great video that gives even more good reasons to focus on posture and body language!
Tips for Good Posture
If you’re not used to practicing good posture, you might feel fatigued at first. This is totally normal! You’re having to retrain muscle memory to get your body to learn a new way of moving. This will take time. I suggest practicing it consciously for 5-10 minutes everyday. Eventually, you’ll be doing it without thinking about it! Just like any new habit.
- Keep your joints stacked – ears over shoulders, shoulders over ribs, ribs over hips, hips over knees.
- Roll your shoulders, forward, down and back and engage those lateral muscles in the upper back
- Be careful not to splay your ribs out, as this will disengage your abs. Bring your ribs together by pretending that you have a zipper from your pubic bone up through your sternum. Zip it up by engaging the abs.
- Pull your chin back to lengthen the back of your neck.
- (Ballet trick!) Feel like you have a string on the top of your head that’s lifting your head up towards the ceiling. This works wonders!
- While working at the computer – have your feet flat on the floor and computer at eye level.
- I like to stand up to work also, by putting my laptop on top of a dresser or tall countertop. A standing desk or treadmill is also an option.
- Strengthen your body through exercise – I highly recommend strength training either through body weight, dumbbells or machines. Check out my arm workout here!
The Yoga Wheel
I talk just a little bit about the yoga wheel I use to stretch out my back, neck and shoulders in the video. It’s actually made for yoga backbends and inversions, which I also use it for, but you don’t have to do yoga to use it. It really is for anyone! This is the pretty turquoise one I got!