Do you want to improve your posture? Today, I’m talking about how to stand tall and easily improve your posture.
Most people recognize that over the course of the day, they start to slouch. It’s almost as though gravity is pulling them down.
I can clearly remember my mom telling me to stand up straight when I was a kid. I guess I was always so eager to get going that I leaned forward! Most parents occasionally correct their children’s posture to help them remember to stand tall. Particularly, teenagers seem to find a few inches of extra height if they pull back their shoulders and lift their head.
That’s all good for children, but who’s reminding adults that we need to stand tall? Sometimes our aching muscles are part of a vicious circle. Did you know that poor posture can create tension and result in aches? If you find yourself shrinking as the day progresses, then take a look at my simple posture tips.
When you sit down, you find yourself leaning forward and sinking into the seat. Sitting for prolonged periods can lead to a slumped posture.
Why it’s bad for your posture: If you’re slouching and rounding your shoulders, you are lengthening and stretching out the muscles in the upper back. This then causes the chest muscles to shorten. Over time this can create imbalances that can lead to pain and discomfort in the upper body.
Quick posture fix: Sit up tall and ensure that your back is fully supported against a back rest. Take frequent breaks to stand up and walk around, if possible. Make an effort to do stretches throughout the day that are focused on stretching out the chest muscles.
Whether you’re lugging around a laptop, groceries or any other items, you find yourself always slinging the weight over one shoulder.
Why it’s bad for your posture: We all naturally favor one side of the body. When you carry excess weight (an overstuffed purse or hefty computer bag) on one side of the body, you create muscular imbalances. These imbalances are often found in the hip complex, because your lower body has to compensate to reduce leaning.
Quick posture fix: Use a roller bag for heavy items and keep your shoulder bag light. Using a backpack that evenly distributes the weight across both shoulders is a great option, too. If you must stick with a one shoulder bag, be sure to swap sides often to evenly work the muscles on both sides of your body.
You’re only working on the muscles you can see rather than equally building supporting muscles. This is a common problem for both men and women in the gym. A ‘vanity workout’ is when people work out the muscles they can see and is sometimes called a ‘mirror workout.’
Why it’s bad for your posture: Working and building strength in some muscle groups and ignoring others can create imbalances. The most common gym mistake for men is building big chest muscles and ignoring the legs. For women, it’s working the abs and ignoring the muscles of the lower back.
Quick posture fix: Understand that the majority of your muscles work in pairs. If you work one muscle, always follow up by working it’s partner. For instance, if you work your upper body on one day, then try to work your lower body the next day. I believe that following a balanced fitness program will help you keep your posture in check.
You’re not wearing the right level of support for your activity level. This is a common issue with ladies. Wearing a poorly fitted bra can have a detrimental effect on posture.
Why it’s bad for your posture: Wearing unsupportive bras, especially when working out, can cause serious upper back pain and strain the muscles in the chest. Women who are well endowed may also experience lower back discomfort from leaning backwards to overcompensate for the weight pulling them forward.
Quick posture fix: Finding a more supportive bra is the first step. Next, take some time to find a supportive sports bra to wear while you work out. Make sure you’re shopping for the size you are, not the size you want to be—whether it’s smaller or bigger.
Check that you’re wearing the right bra for your activity level, too, as sports bras can offer very different support levels. Many sports tops come with a fitted bra section, but most of the time they lack the support you need while working out. Once you’ve found the right bras, take some time during your workouts to do exercises that focus on pulling your shoulder blades back. This will help you to strengthen your back muscles and alleviate any weakness.
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Are any or all of these tips relevant to you? It’s amazing how daily life can have such a huge impact on our posture. I believe that with a focused approach you can improve your posture, one day at a time.
It’s worth reminding yourself to think about posture over the course of your daily tasks, because posture issues can have a cumulative effect as we age. I often start the day feeling tall, but as the hours pass I might find myself slouching or favoring one side, while standing by placing all of my body weight on one leg. When I catch myself engaging in bad posture, I try and immediately to correct my stance—and I hope you will, too.
Just as my mother told me to stand up straight years ago, I now repeat her words to my own children. “Sit up straight, wear both of your backpack straps, stop leaning on one leg, get off the computer and play outside” are just a few phrases I find myself saying. The one thing I don’t say is: ‘Stop fidgeting.” Moving your body is a natural defense against stiffness, so stop reading and take a second to stretch.
Samantha Clayton is responsible for all activities relating to exercise and fitness education for Independent Herbalife Members and employees. Through in-person training sessions, educational tools and materials, and her blog (www.discovergoodfitness.com), she ensures that the important role of exercise as part of a healthy, active life is understood by all. She also helps create, organize and promote employee fitness programs and activities as an integral part of the company’s corporate wellness program.
A native of Liverpool, England, Samantha initially worked as a consultant for Herbalife for two years and led the Herbalife24-Fit program, the company’s first comprehensive fitness training program and DVD series.
Before joining the corporate ranks, Samantha was a professional athlete. She represented Great Britain in the 2000 Sydney Olympics in both the 200m and the 4x100m relay events. Prior to the Olympics, she won two medals in the Olympic AAA trials – a silver medal for the 200m and a bronze for the 100m – as well as a silver medal in the 4x100m relay during the European Junior Championships in 1997. Her personal records include 11.40 seconds in the 100m and 23.02 seconds in the 200m.
Samantha is a personal trainer and group exercise coach through the American Fitness and Aerobics Association (AFAA) and International Sport Science Association (ISSA).