While growing up, do you ever remember hearing your mother or grandmother tell you to ‘Stand up straight!’ Yeah, yeah, yeah would be the thought, but then I would react because it was better to obey than to hear the follow-up conversation. As I have gotten older and of course much wiser, the advice my parents gave me not only make sense but I have realized it was for my own good. Now with kids of my own, I hear myself repeating the same of tried and true advice to my own children.

The other day while picking up my son’s suit from the cleaners, this little old white haired man was so hunched over that just watching him continually made my back and neck ache for him. Those words of advice ‘stand up straight’ many moons ago, came back to my mind. So what can we do to improve our posture now, is standing up straight enough? I wasn’t aware that when you improve  your posture, you not only breathe better, you look better and you boost your health as well.

Here are 5 tips that will help you improve your posture:

 Good posture isn’t just about standing up straight! Not only does it help you look slimmer and more confident, better posture can improve your mood and help ease a wide range of problems. ‘Bad posture can affect your breathing, give you a bad back, sore neck, voice problems (it compresses the larynx), muscular aches and pains, indigestion and sluggish bowels and a range of problems caused by compress of the internal organs,’ says Alexander Technique teacher Elizabeth Dodgson (atteacher.co.uk).

Discover your posture type, says physiotherapist Warrick McNeill (physloworks.co.uk). Stand side-on to a mirror to check the position of your pelvis and shoulders. Seventy per cent of us stand in a sway-back posture with the pelvis tipped back, a result of spending too much time sitting down, says McNeill; the pelvis slightly tipped forward is another posture type. ‘It’s important to bring your pelvis back underneath you,’ he says. ‘For those with a sway back, squeeze your bum in slightly to tuck your tail in, making sure your lower back still has a gentle curve. Your kneecaps should point forwards. Gently pull in the area between your belly button and pubic bone and check your beltline is horizontal or near to it. Bring your shoulder blades back and pull you chin in slightly, your earlobes should be above your collarbone.

 Practice the right way to align your body when sitting can help prevent back and neck problems. Try these tips.

  • Your head should be above your sitting bones, says Dodgson. ‘If you sit forward at your desk, the muscles in your neck and upper back are overworked.”
  • Make sure your earlobes are above your shoulders. Roll your shoulders back and down.
  • Have your feet flat on the floor and knees level to or just below your hips; use a specially designed foot-rest if you need to. Both your hips and knees should be bent at 90 degrees. Your fee and knees should be shoulder-width apart. Avoid crossing your legs or ankles as this mis-aligns your pelvis and spine.
  • Relax – don’t sit up too stiffly.

Walk tall. Hold your head up, bring your shoulders back and pull your tummy muscles slightly in. ‘Listen to your feet,’ says Dodgson, ‘Walk softly, shortening and softening your stride. Your head should be tall. Don’t drop your head – it puts a lot of tension on your neck.’ To see where you’re going, drop your eyes without dropping your head, says Dobson. If you have to carry a bag, make it as light as possible and use alternate sides, or even better, use backpack so your arms are free. ‘Carrying something restricts the oppositional movement of the upper body and legs,’ she says.

 Working out. During your workouts, good posture is crucial to help you avoid injury and ensure you get the best results. McNeill says we tend to be more aware of maintain good posture and using the appropriate postural muscles when we’re working out, especially if using mirrors in the gym. ‘Take the good form you use during your workout with you into everyday life,’ he says.

Source: How to Improve your Posture – 5 Tips

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