Happy Spring! With summer just around the corner you may be thinking about wearing shorts and getting toned arms for tank tops- or maybe you plan to improve your game this year by being in better shape and ready for outdoor fun. All of that may resonate with you, but one of the things that can get overlooked in our fitness programs and overall health is our posture. Proper posture is so important for so many reasons that I encourage you to take a moment to evaluate yours.
Not only do we look slimmer when standing tall, but it makes us feel better and boosts our self confidence too! When we carry ourselves in the way our bodies were designed to, we inevitably can function with more ease, and get more out of our exercise program. Try adding in these 7 tips & this 12 minute yoga flow into your day.
Here Are 7 Tips to Improve Your Posture
1. Adjust your rear view mirror.
How many minutes or hours a day do you spend sitting in your car? For most of us this time can really add up! Why not take this opportunity to improve your posture? Before you buckle up, take a moment to sit up as tall as you can. Activate and engage your core muscles to support you by pretending like you’re zipping up a tight pair of jeans. Then, imagine a puppet string pulling you up through the crown of your head, as you lengthen your spine.
Now that this strong posture is intact, adjust your rear view mirror and buckle up. It may feel weird, but don’t let yourself readjust it. When you notice you can’t see out of it, readjust your posture instead of the mirror.
2. Put a pilates ball between your thighs while exercising.
Whether you’re doing abdominal curls, planks or doing a squat, putting a pilates ball between your thighs is a simple way to improve your posture. First, it’s going to help get your feet grounded in a functional position. Ideally, you want your feet about hip-width apart with your toes pointing straight forward so the outside edges of your feet are parallel. This is also beneficial when doing a stationary upper body exercise while standing or when you are on your back doing a bridge.
If you’re used to standing with your toes pointed out (like most people), this new foot position might feel awkward, almost like you’re standing in a pigeon-toed fashion. Just like anything else, though, the more you practice it, the more comfortable it becomes. Since your feet are your foundation, it’s important to get them set up properly.
Secondly, holding a ball between your thighs activates your inner thigh muscles. This fires up your abdominal muscles to support your posture and takes pressure of your back. Strong, engaged inner thighs are an important component of strong, attractive posture.
3. Sit at the edge of your chair.
Most chairs aren’t designed ergonomically correct. So if you’re constantly lounging back and relying on them to support your posture, the results will be less than fabulous. Sit at the edge of your chair and train your muscles to support you instead. Think about your perfect posture while driving, same principles apply.
4. Sit on a stability ball instead of a chair.
When you replace your stable base (a chair) with an unstable base (a stability ball), core muscles are forced to begin engaging simply to keep you from falling off. In other words, sitting on a stability ball is a great tool that automatically reminds your body to engage muscles that will support your posture. Bonus: Take a fit break every hour with your stability ball and do a couple of exercises!
5. Turn your palms so they’re facing forward.
Whenever you’re standing and not using your hands, like when you’re waiting in line at the grocery story, gently turn your hands so your thumbs are pointed out, away from your body with palms facing forward. This subtle adjustment works wonders because is pulls your shoulder blades back toward your spine, opening your chest … a much more flattering look than being hunched forward.
6. Strengthen Your Core.
To keep your entire musculoskeletal system in tune to support your posture, it’s important to keep yourself in shape and strengthen your core.
If you’d like to learn some exercises that will strengthen your core and improve your posture, check out part 1 core exercises and part 2 core exercises. (there are only 4 exercise in each to do!) By adding these into your weekly routine you will definitely see a difference in how you stand and feel!
7. Stay Flexible.
Increased flexibility and improved range of motion helps keep our backs in alignment and improve posture. For example if your chest muscles are tight, your shoulders will be pulled inward, contributing to a rounded back. If your hip flexors are tight, your pelvis will be pulled out of alignment putting strain on your lower back and once again affecting your posture. We tend to compensate for these tight muscles by adjusting our posture so it feels better, but not in the right way!
When we practice correct posture, our bodies are in alignment with themselves. We look slimmer, stand taller, and feel better. This can also alleviate common problems such as back or neck pain, headaches, and fatigue. Without good posture we have reduced flexibility, and compromised muscles, all of which limit our ability to burn fat and build strength.
Check out my 12 minute yoga flow below and pick one of these tips to integrate into your day for slimming posture and results you will notice right away!