I’ve been 5’9″ for as long as I can remember. I was always in the back row of every class picture. My friends in the front row. My parents nagging me non-stop to “throw” my shoulders back. Pull my shoulders back. Stand up! It wasn’t as if I was being rebellious. I just didn’t know how important it was to my health, future and life it would be to Stand Tall.
Truth is there is not one person who does not need to have proper posture. But, it’s not that easy to have proper posture when you have spent so many years without it. Also, our lifestyles are not always conducive to proper posture. We sit too much, drive too much, have desks that are not properly measured to us. Our lifestyles constantly reinforce poor posture because we don’t enforce good posture.
What’s so important about Good Posture anyways?
Aside from looking correct, confident, strong and well, attractive. Posture is important to your body functioning at it’s best. When you sit, stand or lay with correct posture you body is able to use it’s muscles in the correct alignment, decreasing wear and tear on the body. This posture also aides in reducing stress on your spine and overall spine health. The muscles in your body will not fatigue so quickly as they are able to work in the fashion they were designed. You’re less likely to overuse a particular muscle and therefore reduce the likelihood of pain and aches in the body especially the back. Oh and again, you just look better!
Still not convinced your should pay attention to your posture? No worries, let’s talk circulation. If you are slouching you’re affecting the blood flow to your spine and other major body parts. Your spinal column is the passage of information from your brain to your body. Picture a freeway, everyone is going in one direction. Their are on ramps and off ramps. What happens when a car stalls at ramp? It backs up traffic. Information isn’t getting to parts of the body the way it was designed. Overtime this can become chronic. Poor posture will also lead to back pain and aches or even injuries, which then will lead to furthering the bad posture. Think about it. Last time you had an ache or pain did you stand taller or hunch more?
Now that I have your attention let’s check YOUR posture.
Stand against a wall. Your feet will be about shoulder distance apart and six inches from the wall. Your head, shoulders and hips will be against the wall. When you do this you neck and low back should have less that a two inch space from the wall. If it’s larger than you are looking at signs of poor posture. If you cannot get your head, shoulders and hips against the wall at the same time, that’s a sign of poor posture.
Check your body’s alignment regularly with this exercise.
Set up just as you did to check your posture. Double check that your head, shoulders, hips are against the wall to start. Then with soft knees curl your head off the wall, then one vertebra at a time articulate your spine off the wall until your hands are in front of your knees. Missed a vertebra? Stop! Start over. If you miss it again then that’s as far as you go. Continue to roll up and down focusing on one bone at a time. Using your core will help you get through the whole spine one day. Do this a few times and then roll all the way up and hold.
Again, double check your landmarks. Head, shoulders, hips against the wall. Lift your arms to shoulder height. Keeping your arms parallel to the floor and each other plug your shoulders on the wall. Reach your arms forward, the shoulders will leave the wall then plug them back on the wall. Do this again a few times. Reaching forward, plugging back in. You’ll feel the muscles of your upper back warm up and pull your collar bones wide to allow for your shoulders to touch the wall. These muscles are necessary for keeping your shoulders “on” your back and not rounding forward.
The last time you plug your shoulders on the wall hold. Draw small circles with your arms. Keep the circles controlled, only as big as your can maintain your shoulders on the wall. Do 5-10 then reverse.
Lesley Logan author of Profitable Pilates and Los Angeles Magazines Best of LA Pilates instructor has been teaching in LA since 2008. She currently teaches at Westwood Pilates and Equinox West Hollywood where she also runs the Pilates studio. As a goals coach for Fitness Instructors around the world she enjoys seeing her clients hit their personal and career goals!
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