Most of us (me included) don’t have great posture. We slump in our chairs, we hunch over smartphones, we don’t stand as straight as we should. And it’s a problem that’s not going to get better anytime soon. Computers, iPhones, sedentary desk jobs…they all conspire to keep us slouching through our day.
And here are some of the problems caused by bad posture: headaches, back pain, shoulder/neck pain. Constantly stressing the spine, and the soft tissues that support it, can leave you prone to injury, and long-term problems like arthritis down the road. Also? It makes you look heavier than you actually are. And less confident. In fact, I think standing tall with good carriage makes you feel more confident.
But for many of us, the muscles that hold our shoulders back and our spine in an anatomically correct position have become so weakened because of constant slouching, it’s actually difficult to stand tall and sit up straight.
So how to improve your deportment? You need to incorporate a couple of exercises into your day. Most of them are pretty easy, and take very little time. During a recent seminar at the university clinic where I work, a chiropractor showed us some simple exercises to improve posture. My fave: floor snow angels.
Here’s a LiveStrong article that describes floor snow angels and other exercises to help with the particularly common problem of forward-rolling shoulders.
Women’s Health Magazine has a very helpful article on posture, with 4 different approaches to posture-improving exercises: Pilates, Ballet, Yoga, and Alexander Technique.
Best Health Magazine also has a great article on improving posture. They describe easy exercises you can do to improve posture, having picked the brains of the adult program director at Canada’s National Ballet, and an exercise physiologist at the American Council on Exercise.
Personally, I think yoga is excellent for posture, and I know my own body awareness and carriage have improved since practicing yoga regularly.
But, I also believe there’s a mindfulness aspect to good posture–you can have the strongest, most flexible muscles in the world, but if you’re not actually paying attention to sitting straight–and making a habit of it–it’s easy to let yourself slump down.