If you are feeling like the humpback of Notre Dame or if you know your posture needs some improvement I have some great information that will assist you in improving your balance and getting you back into alignment.
So what is good posture anyway? I’m glad you asked. First let me explain that the back has a natural curvature similar to an S. The first starts at the base of your head and goes to your shoulders. The next starts at the curve from the upper back and travels to the base of the spine. This natural curvature should be maintained and your weight should be distributed equally over your feet. Your ears, shoulders, and hips should be in alignment. Take a look in the mirror and adjust yourself to this position.
The typical poor posture most people assume is the head, shoulders, and hips forward which is caused by weak shoulders, tight hips, and tight chest. To fix this compensation the muscles of the shoulders and upper back must be strengthened while the chest and hip flexors need to be stretched and lengthened. Follow these exercises and stretches to help draw the head and shoulders back into there proper position and enjoy the way you feel as your chest opens up and you stand tall.
Strengthening Upper Back and Shoulders
Align your ears over your shoulders. Raise both arms straight up, alongside your ears. Remember to keep your ears aligned! Bend forearms toward shoulders to touch your shoulder blades. Do 10 repetitions with both arms, then alternate 10 reps for each arm singularly.
Align ears with shoulders. Raise both arms out to sides at shoulder height. Hold for a slow count of ten. Slowly lower arms to sides, counting ten as you lower. Slowly raise arms back to shoulder height, counting to ten as you raise arms. Do ten reps, constantly checking your alignment! If ten reps are too many to start, do as many as you can. You should at least feel a slight fatigue in the shoulder muscles.
Be a penguin. While you wait for a web page to load, bread to toast, popcorn to pop or the microwave to beep, place elbows at your side, and touch your shoulders with your hands. Keeping your hands on your shoulders and your ears aligned, raise both elbows (count one, two) and lower them back to your waist (count one, two). Do as many reps as your wait allows. You’ll be surprised how much exercise fits into 30 seconds.
Stretches to open Hips and Chest
Now some more advice on Posture:
Stand with weight mostly on the balls of the feet, not with weight on the heels. Avoid locking your knees.Keep feet slightly apart, about shoulder-width. Let arms hang naturally down the sides of the body.Tuck the chin in a little to keep the head level. Be sure the head is square on top of the neck and spine, not pushed out forward. Stand straight and tall, with shoulders upright. Stand against a wall with shoulders and bottom touching wall. In this position, the back of the head should also touch the wall – if it does not, the head is carried too far forward (anterior head carriage).
Sit in an office chair. Align your back with the back of the office chair. Avoid slouching or leaning forward, especially when tired from sitting in the office chair for long periods. Keep your shoulders straight. Flex your arms at a 75- to 90-degree angle at the elbows. You may have to adjust the office chair. Make sure your neck, back, and heels are all aligned. Keep both feet flat on the floor. If there’s a problem with feet reaching the floor comfortably, a footrest can be used along with the office chair.
Keep the head up and eyes looking straight ahead. Avoid pushing your head forward. Keep shoulders properly aligned with the rest of the body.
Sit with the back firmly against the seat for proper back support. The seat should be a proper distance from the pedals and steering wheel to avoid leaning forward or reaching. The headrest should support the middle of the head to keep it upright. Tilt the headrest forward if possible to make sure that the head-to-headrest distance is not more than four inches.
When Carrying Objects:
Always bend at the knees, not the waist. Use the large leg and stomach muscles for lifting, not the lower back. If necessary, get a supportive belt to help maintain good posture while lifting. Keep large or heavy objects close to the chest when carrying them. Switch arms frequently if you are carrying something with only one arm. Keep backpacks and purses as light as possible, and balance the weight on both sides as much as possible, or alternate from side to side. When carrying a backpack, avoid leaning forward or rounding the shoulders. If the weight feels like too much, consider using a rolling backpack with wheels.
Use a firm mattress for proper back support, but remember that individual preference is very important. Try to sleep on your back. Sleeping on the side will damage your posture after enough repetitions. Sleeping on your back will help straighten your shoulders, and it is usually more comfortable for the back than sleeping on the stomach. Use a pillow to provide proper support and alignment for the head and shoulders. Consider putting a rolled-up towel under the neck and a pillow under the knees to better support the spine. If sleeping on the side, a relatively flat pillow placed between the legs will help keep the spine aligned and straight.
Strengthen your core:
Lie on your back, with your legs bent to about 90 degrees at the knee, and your feet on the floor. Practice pulling your belly-button towards your spine and holding it at the end. This is a different type of contraction than crunches (crunches feel like they are more at the front of your stomach, while this feels like it is more inwards and towards your back). Hold for 10 seconds, repeat 8 times. Repeat daily. Maintain the proper posture even if you are getting tired and are not using other muscles like your back or butt muscles. Breathe normally during this exercise, as you are training your core to be able to maintain this position during normal activities in daily life.
Activities to help Posture:
~ Imagine balancing a book on your head when you walk.
~ Imagine a string coming from the top of your head pulling you up towards the ceiling.
Cautions to be aware of:
~ Contact your doctor or other movement education professional if you’re currently injured or have had a previous injury in the back, neck, knee or pelvic area.
~ Discontinue if you feel any pain or discomfort more than a slight burn.
~ See a specialist if you are not seeing improvements in ease of movement.
“Heal Yourself, Heal the Planet”!
Jared Repass~ My Body Reboot