As promised, here are 10 ways to improve your posture:
1. Learn what “neutral” spine feels like.
Recognize what neutral spine alignment looks and feels like (it’s that natural “S” curve of the spine that you’re familiar with seeing in pictures). When people first reform into a neutral spine position, most describe it as feeling “unnatural” – only because our muscles have become so trained to hold the spine in mis-alignment. And remember, your neck is a very important part of your spine to hold in alignment.
2. Keep reminding yourself.
When you catch a glimpse of yourself in a window reflection, or in the bathroom mirror, or even in your shadow on the sidewalk, remind yourself to become posture-conscious. Postural muscles that are responsible for holding their contraction will soon do so more easily and naturally.
3. Shift position frequently.
Science is identifying more and more negative health effects of too much sitting. Counter the damage as much as possible by standing whenever you can. Standing with proper spine alignment is far easier than sitting with proper spine alignment.
4. Strengthen your hips.
Weak hip muscles that attach to your pelvis can affect posture. Particularly if you sit a lot, make sure you’re following an exercise program that includes flexibility and strength training for the hip flexors, extensors, abductors, adductors and rotators.
5. Do appropriate core exercises.
Learn exercises that train the abdominals to hold the pelvis in neutral alignment. Active core stabilization training (like stability ball roll-outs and planks) is really effective for postural correction. Remember to keep your scapulae retracted.
6. Extend your spine to increase its range of motion.
Learn how to correctly perform back extension exercises. On the floor, using a machine or while standing, back extension exercises can significantly reduce or eliminate back pain.
7. Remember to work front AND back sides of your upper body.
Work muscles that you can’t see in a mirror as frequently as you work those that you can. Look around the gym, you’ll easily see what I mean. You need balanced upper body strength front and back to exhibit good posture. Rear deltoids, infraspinatus, rhomboids, latissimus, lower trapezius.
8. Shift exercise style.
Don’t dismiss the occasional yoga or Pilate’s class from your overall fitness program. After all, you’re going to be working out for the rest of your life, so vary it up a bit to keep from getting bored. Full range of joint motion is a key element of good posture.
9. Visualize good posture.
Imagine a hook placed just under your sternum lifting you gently. Notice how your thoracic spine responds to that. Or a puppet string gently attached to the crown of your scalp lifting you straight up. When you walk, concentrate on your posture and imagine yourself moving with a coordinated, symmetrical alignment. Imagine Royalty. Practice your wave.
10. Get checked out.
Besides muscular weakness and muscular imbalance, postural problems can arise from other factors and conditions. Yes, I can help with muscle training. I can also put you in touch with other specialists who can help diagnose and treat any skeletal issues that may be impacting your posture.
Stay strong and upright well into your future.