Establishing and maintaining good posture is an important but often overlooked aspect of health and wellbeing. Having misaligned posture negatively impacts our comfort, sleep quality, sports performance, breathing, and even our metabolism! The body is a complicated machine, and when parts are out of alignment, it can’t function properly.
In our society, we spend a lot of time sitting down. This leads to imbalances in our posture. The typical posture we see and experience is what is often called “the Donald Duck posture”. Our hips tighten from sitting, which pulls our pelvis into an anterior tilt, making our butts stick out. Then to compensate, we pull our chest up and out by tightening with our lats, opening up our ribcage and shutting down our deep abdominal muscles. Now that our lats are tight from all that chest-puffing, our shoulders begin to roll forward, and our shoulder blades pull away from each other.
So how do we fix it? Well, not all at once! Here I’ll offer some small but effective ways to help improve your posture. These tips can and should be practiced as often as possible. Remember: the keys to health and wellbeing are consistency and patience!
1) Stretch Smart
We live stressful lives, and that stress often accumulates and manifests as bodily tension. With that in mind, it is always a good idea to release tension by stretching regularly. However, not all muscles should be stretched equally. If the body is imbalanced, with some areas being stronger than others, it stands to reason that we should stretch with the goal of reintroducing balance.
Some areas of the body that are often too tight are the hip flexors, pectorals, lats, and calves. So, when stretching, pay special attention to those areas, and stretch them more than the rest of your muscles.
2) Strengthen What Is Weak
So now that we’re stretching those strong, overdeveloped muscles, let’s work to strengthen the weaker, underdeveloped ones. Whether at the gym or in the comfort of your own home, try and practice a few simple exercises to work your glutes, your hamstrings, your back and your deep abdominal muscles.
A simple beginner routine would be to perform three sets of Lying Hip Bridges, Prone Superman Holds and Abdominal Planks, holding each position for 10-30 seconds at a time, with a specific focus on tucking your pelvis forward to really activate your glutes, hamstrings and core.
Try and do that a few times a week, and I’m sure you’ll see improvements!
3) Take Breaks From Sitting When You Can
If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time, make space to take a break every now and then! Put a timer on your phone or computer to remind yourself to get up at regular intervals. Take a few seconds to do a hip stretch, or maybe even a few seconds of a Bridge. Break up that stagnation to at least offset some of the impact sitting has on your posture.
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