Why do we need to tweak and improve our posture? Have you ever looked at a picture of yourself and wished you had better posture?
Have you ever had back pain?? Even if you haven't there are plenty of reasons to improve your posture. One is that standing without slumping boosts your self esteem. Now that's a habit I can use, how about you?
Before we can improve our posture, we have to understand everything that we've been taught wrong about how to stand up straight as well as how to bend and move properly.
Esther Gokhale is a posture teacher and founder of the Gokhale Method. Watch the video below to learn what good posture actually looks like.
When standing up straight its more about your core muscles than your shoulders and back muscles. So put the focus back on your core. You are meant to have good posture that is why you will notice that babies just learning to walk have excellent posture. It isn't until we reprogram them that they begin to establish bad posture habits.
Little tweaks that help you improve your posture
According to Gokhale, one of the most troublesome postures of modern society is keeping your head thrust too far forward. Ideally, your ears should be above your shoulders, and to get there, you want to pull your head and neck back—typically about 45 degrees, depending how far forward your head is.
Another crucial area is your spine. You want to lengthen or elongate your spine, and maintain your buttocks out behind you rather than tucked in. Most conventional advice tells you to tuck in your pelvis to maintain an S-shaped spine, but a far more natural spine curvature is what Esther refers to as a J-spine. Here, your back is straight and your buttocks protrude slightly. (source)
Certain dances like the Samba and the Salsa are very good for improving posture. Learning to do these dances will help you get a feel for proper posture, be an added form of exercise and also a fun activity!
If most days you are required to do a lot of sitting, as in office work or students, make it a habit to get up and move frequently. Even if you just stand up to stretch every 30 minutes or so it will make a difference in your posture.
Although I love the way heels look, I try not to wear them often because they throw off the center of gravity. When wearing heels, your body gets out of alignment. So it is best to avoid them or opt for lower heels. I know that is easier said than done if you are in love with your heels!
If you have back pain you will find some extremely helpful tools and exercises in her book, below:
In this video is a very good instructional on how to lengthen your spine. It actually feels so good to do this technique. My teenagers come in my room to grab a foam roller for their own back massage! I have two foam rollers that I use for rolling my spine.
Taking good care of your spine helps to improve your posture, so you might consider getting chiropractic care.
The Gokhale Method DVD on Back Pain can be beneficial if you are serious about making changes in your posture. However, no matter what method you choose to maintain good posture throughout your life, make sure that it is a priority. Not only will good posture improve your looks, it improves your health by keeping your hormone production running smoothly.
Posture changes our hormones like cortisol and testosterone. In her viral TED Talk, Amy Cuddy argued that our body language actually shapes who we are. Her research found that individuals who sit or stand in more expansive positions for two minutes show decreased cortisol (stress hormones) and increased testosterone (dominance hormones) compared to those who were in more diminutive poses. They were also judged by others to be more effective when making a presentation. (source)
How would you rate your posture on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being perfect and 1 being not so great?