Simple Steps To Improve Your Posture: The 7-Day Posture Correction Challenge
Improving your posture is one of the best ways to look slimmer and prevent injuries. Whether you’re sitting or standing, proper posture matters, and you’ll physically look 10 years younger—and 10 pounds lighter.
Psychologically, good posture conveys confidence, poise, and leadership.And, it is the best prevention when it comes to injuries of the shoulder, hip, back, knee, and every joint in your body. Unfortunately, most of us don't even know that our posture isn't good as it often develops so gradually that you may notice its symptoms such as back and neck pain, tightness and stiffness, and increased injury (including repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel), as well as some loss of your normal range of motion. You'll notice these symptoms long before you notice your shoulders hunching over.
The good news is you can correct your posture and reduce your pain and suffering by incorporating some simple posture exercises and stretches into your workout program.
WHAT IS PROPER POSTURE?
Think STACK. Head stacked over your shoulders, shoulders stacked over your hips, hips stacked over your knees, and knees stacked over your ankles. Proper posture means your bones are properly aligned or stacked. Proper alignment is necessary if you want your muscles, joints, and ligaments to work properly.
If you have good posture, your internal organs are also in the right position and can work more effectively. If you're chronically constipated, you may need to sit and stand up straight to prevent "bunching" things up ... if you know what I mean.
When your body's muscles and joints are balanced and supported, you're better able to perform everyday activities such as squatting to pick up laundry or working on the computer without hurting yourself. You'll also feel energized.
When your posture is out of alignment, the joints in your body (e.g., shoulders, spine, hips, knees, and ankles) do not fit together properly. This causes some muscles to work harder than others. It's the same as when your car is out of alignment and one tire wears out more than the others. Over time, this can happen to joints (knees, hips, and shoulders). Those muscles become tense while the others weaken, creating muscular imbalances that slowly devolve into poor posture. As posture deteriorates further, joint movements become restricted and the differences between tense and weak muscles place greater stress on your joints, which then have to compensate. This wears out your joints more than you think. Fix these imbalances, and your posture (and the pain associated with it) will improve.
HOW DO YOU KNOW IF YOU HAVE POOR POSTURE?
There are many signs that you may have bad posture. Some of the most common are: rounded shoulders and a rounded upper back, arched lower back, a protruding back side, aches, pains, or chronic injuries. These are almost always caused by an improper posture that leads to more issues down the line. Addressing your posture now is the secret to reducing your pain and preventing injuries.
Pain is a warning sign—listen to it! Even simple back pain can be a warning sign. If your injury was caused by an accident, posture is still important.
Take this posture test to see if your posture passes:
- Is your head out in front of you—jutting forward? Your head should be stacked directly over so your ear lines up with your shoulder and not three inches out in front of your body.
- Are your shoulders rounded over and slumping forward? Your shoulders should be squared and rolled back.
- Are your hips tilted forward or back? Your hips should be aligned under your shoulder and knees and straight, no tilting front, back, or sideways.
When trying to assess posture, stand in front of a mirror sideways. Your ear should be directly over your shoulder, shoulder over the hip, and the hip over the knees. Nine out of ten times your posture does not fall perfectly along this line, even if you're super fit.
If you're not sure that you're standing straight, ask someone to assess, or use a straight line from a wall seam or mirror, or place blue painter's tape on the wall as a vertical line of reference/gauge.
A sign of good posture is when the little bumps on your spine are in a straight line down the center of your back. Slouching while working on the computer and when your working out can cause you to become crooked, so rule #1 is: Stand up straight, shoulders rolled back, and pull your chin in. You’ll feel an amazing stretch in your back when you do this.
For one week every month, I recommend focusing on your posture muscles for seven days. Stop doing your usual workout (it may be the cause of your muscle imbalances) and do this corrective posture workout instead. Don't worry, you won’t get out of shape. You’ll actually get in better shape and see and feel the difference within one week. Your abs will be flatter and love handles will diminish (unless you have weight to lose. Start the 7-Day Posture Challenge now!
Strengthen Your Core With A Perfect Plan: 1-minute drill, stay straight
All good posture starts with a strong core, including the abdominals (both the rectus abdominals that form the six-pack and the deeper transverse abdominals below them), lower back, obliques, and hips. Strong core muscles don't just keep your back healthy and resistant to pain and injury; they also hold your body upright, improve balance and enable you to move your body with greater control and efficiency. If any (or all) of your core muscles are weak, other muscles have to compensate, resulting in loss of motion, weakness, and pain. In fact, you can alleviate and prevent low-back pain through regular core training.
Fix Rounded Shoulders With Reverse Dumbbell Flies: 1-minute drill, builds endurance
Rounded shoulders, although common, are actually a postural abnormality caused by spending hours hunched over behind a computer or desk, while driving a car or watching television, or while performing repetitive tasks on the job. In these forward-reaching positions, your chest, shoulders and hip muscles become shortened and tight while the muscles of your upper and middle back weaken. You can improve your posture by strengthening the weak upper back muscles, while stretching tight muscles in the chest, shoulders, lats, and hips. As the upper back becomes stronger and the chest becomes more flexible, the shoulders organically pull back—a sign of improved posture.
Open Up Tight Chest And Shoulders
Clasp hands behind your back and take 5-8 deep breaths, or repeat until you feel open and relaxed.
Neutralize Hips And Thighs With Lying Leg Curls With A Beach Ball
When viewed from the side, your hips should be neutral and level. Some people's hips tilt forward, a postural abnormality known as anterior (forward) pelvic tilt. Lordosis (or "swayback") is another symptom of this tilt. Caused by weakness in the hamstrings (back of thighs), glutes (butt) and abs, and tightness in the hip flexors and thighs, this is common in people who sit all or most of the day and spend hours with their legs bent. Here's a quick way to identify if you have any sort of pelvic tilt: Look at your belt line. Wearing your regular pants and a belt, when viewed from the side, the belt should be level all the way around the waist. If your belt line is higher in the back and lower in the front, you need to strengthen the weak muscles in your hamstrings, glutes and abs, while improving the flexibility of your thighs and hip flexors.
Neutralize Hips And Thighs With Lying Leg Curls With A Standing Or Lying Thigh Stretch
This movement will open up the hips and quads.
Pull Your Head Back To Retract A Forward Head
When driving your car, how often is your head touching the headrest behind you? More often than not, your head is forward, not even touching the headrest. Hours, days, and years of driving a car, watching TV, or working in front of a computer tighten the front and side neck muscles and weaken the deep and rear muscles of the neck.
Most people think of the back and shoulders as keys to good posture, but the position of your head and neck is just as important. When viewed from the side, your ears should be above your shoulders. But most people's heads (and therefore ears) push forward of the shoulders. This is usually accompanied by a protruding chin and rounded shoulders. The muscles at the front of your neck must be strong enough to hold your head directly above the shoulders (instead of forward). By fixing the tight and weak areas of the neck, your head will once again center itself just above the shoulders—a sign of proper posture that may also decrease chronic neck pain caused by these imbalances.
Releasing Tight Necks
Decreasing neck pressure from sitting too long in front of the computer or a stationary position.
Keep in mind that poor posture doesn't happen overnight, and there is no magic bullet to fix it other than consistently following these strength and flexibility exercises. To speed up the process, consider making adjustments in your daily routine.
To speed up the process, consider making adjustments in your daily routine. Rearrange your workspace and adjust your car seat so that you sit upright; upgrade to a firmer mattress to support your back, and do your best to stand and sit tall with your head high and your shoulders pulled down and back each day. In addition, women should wear high-heeled shoes sparingly to reduce tightness in the calves and switch sides of the body when carrying heavy purses.
As your posture improves, you will look younger and thinner and appear more confident. You'll also feel better, prevent back pain, and improve athletic performance. So why wait for postural problems to get worse? Start incorporating these simple exercises and stretches into your workouts and workdays to start seeing results!
- Lisa Lynn