By Patti Joyce, BS, ACSM, NSCA, ACE
When the body is aligned properly, everything works better from inside out. Some of the benefits of standing tall include radiating self-confidence, increased energy, and fewer headaches, less chance of joint pain or injury to the neck, shoulders and back. In fact, studies have shown that a person that stands up straight is considered more attractive, regardless of their weight. Having good posture one of the easiest ways you can live a pain free life!
It’s all in the genes or is it our lifestyle?
We do inherit some characteristics from our parents. We are born with a specific framework that includes the bones, ligaments and muscles. For the most part our posture is determined by how we choose to use our bodies (hence our lifestyle) and how we grew up, literally! Inactivity, like watching hours of television or lack of movement (sitting for long periods hunched over the computer) can lead to poor posture. Incorrect body mechanics, injuries, poor nutrition, disease and most importantly our mental and emotional outlook affect our posture too. Some of these habits are developed during childhood and are based on emotional stress from verbal or physical abuse. Slouching sometimes occurs when a fast growing child feels too tall or an adolescent girl develops breasts earlier than her friends. Being aware of the impact these factors make on a young person’s well being and addressing them early is instrumental in helping them develop a healthy lifestyle.
What is neutral pelvis?
Stand sideways in front of a mirror and try out these three positions. Keep in mind that your pelvis is the area between your hipbones.
- Forward – arch your back with a forward pelvic tilt.
- Reverse – flatten your back with a backward pelvic tilt or tuck your tailbone.
- Neutral – find the middle, where your back has a slight curve.
Find your plum line posture. It is as simple as facing a mirror and lining up your ear with the middle of your shoulder joints, hip joints, center of knee cap and ankle joint. Now, imagine the spine being lengthened both ways north and south.
Stand tall with your chin back, chest lifted and shoulders down. Imagine you are being lifted upward with a string attached to the crown of your head (top center portion between yours ears). Slightly press your chin back and align your neck with your spine keeping your head level.
Abdominal is held in firm. Pull your belly in towards your spine to stabilize your back and improve your balance.
A few tips for keeping good posture all day and night.
Sitting in a car, at work or on an airplane.
Maintain the neutral low back curve. Try placing a small pillow or rolled up towel in the low back region, which may vary per individual. When driving a car try moving your car seat closer to the steering wheel. This will help raise the knees. When at work, move in closer to your desk or place your feet on a book. Most importantly take a break to stand up and stretch.
Sleeping comfortably is important too!
The firmness of the mattress is based on your body weight. You should be able to sink (about 1 inch) into the mattress with the curves of your body being lightly supported. When you wake up with discomfort the mattress could be too hard or soft. Sleeping on your side with your head supported and with a natural low back curve is considered the safest position. Try placing a pillow between your knees when sleeping on your side.
Knowledge is power and strength.
Start by being more aware of your own posture and body alignment. For a safe and effective program that meets your specific needs seek advice from a physical therapist or certified fitness professional. Asking questions about your concerns will give you the tools to take care of yourself. You are on you way to living a pain free life.
Patti Joyce has enjoyed working in the fitness and wellness industry for 20 years. Patti is certified by PowerHouse Pilates, Physical Mind Institute, NSCA, ACSM, and ACE. Her mission is to empower people to live a quality life through a healthy body, mind and spirit! She can be reached at www.pattijoyce.com.