Did you know your workout is not just about how much you sweat or burn when you’re in a studio? What you practice in terms of alignment and posture carries with you throughout the day. Focusing on your posture will help you stand taller, feel better and may even help you get that raise or promotion you’ve been striving for. Bonus!
Improve overall spinal health
Aligning the spine and engaging the muscles that support you in this alignment is the first step to better posture. This will strengthen the intrinsic muscles that support the spine and will not only help you protect your back when you are squatting, lunging, lifting or running, but also translate into better posture the rest of the day. Compared to eight-pack abdominals, posture isn’t necessarily the sexiest thing to work on, but then again, slouching isn’t sexy, either.
Improving posture decreases pain throughout the whole body, as everything is connected. Back and neck pain, in particular, are on the rise. Sitting for long periods of time at your desk and hunching over your computer or phone compromises your spinal alignment. Looking down at your phone or forward into your computer most commonly impacts the cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (low back), and causes those nasty things like bulging and herniated discs, which are not fun. Establish “neutral spine,” the healthiest and most functional position of your spine and also an ideal posture we can aim for throughout the day. It reduces tension on the ligaments of the spine, allows for a more balanced center of gravity, balances the load of the vertebrae and provides stability for the whole body.
Elevate your mood
Have you ever felt really really happy when you’re hunched over? Have you felt really sad when you’re standing up tall with your shoulders back and head held high? Probably not. Your posture influences your mood and vice versa. Both research and common sense align on this topic. When you sit and stand taller, you feel better. Having a rough day or a stressful moment? Stand up straight and clasp your hands behind your back to externally rotate the arms and shoulders. Lift your chest and lengthen the sides of the neck. This is a great way to counter poor posture. It also helps to stretch the chest and open your airway. Taking deep, cleansing breaths reduces stress and elevates your mood as well. Breath and posture go together like peanut butter and jelly.
Boost your confidence
Fake it until you feel it. The term “posturing” means to behave in a way that that is intended to impress others. Got a big presentation? Client meeting? Annual review? How you carry yourself impacts how people perceive you. If you have poor posture, you can appear weak or not confidence. Practice your power postures. Stand up tall. Open your chest and shoulders, lengthen your neck and lift the chin, so it’s parallel with the floor. This will not only make you feel better but appear more confident, competent and trustworthy.
Last but not least, when you sit and stand taller, you look thinner and younger. On average, better posture shaves three to five pounds off your frame.
When choosing a workout routine, prioritize options that include postural work. Use this as the core conditioning to allow you to successfully live in your body and continue to do all the things you love for years to come.
But be warned, neutral isn’t easy. It requires strength and mindfulness to fight the impact that gravity has on the spine. Tune in a few times a day and work up to once an hour. The beauty is that you can practice your posture anywhere, including in the are or waiting in line at the coffee shop. Practice makes progress!