Melanie Douglass, R.D., NASM
Good posture isn’t about looking good (although, most people don’t complain about that little perk); good posture has several benefits that really make a difference in how you feel, look, and function in all activities of daily living. Most people don’t know that, in any activity you perform (from walking to weights to cleaning and working) good posture actually helps you burn more calories. This is because when you have good posture, your chest is more open, allowing your lungs to power more effective breathing which makes your workouts feel easier. That’s right, easier. And when you feel strong, you are able to work harder, longer, and more effectively.
Good posture helps you:
– Burn more calories throughout the day
– Burn more calories–in every single workout
– Prevent or reduce the risk of injuries
– Reduce the incidence and/or severity of joint & muscular pain
– Improve overall core strength and balance
Good posture means:
– Your shoulders are down and back (not rounded/hunched)
– Your lower back is “neutral” – not arched inward
– Your hips are tilted slightly inward, making them neutral (think of your hips like a bucket of water, then tilt your hips all the way forward, then in toward your spine, then find that spot right in the middle — that should be “neutral”).
– Your head is in line with your shoulders (not jetted forward)
Here are 3 great exercise to help you improve your posture:
Sit in a chair with your legs together and feet on the floor, with your toes facing forward. Pull your shoulders down and back and contract your abs. Make sure your hips are neutral and your low back is not arched. Bend your arms to 90 degrees, palms down, and move them out to the side. Then make slow, controlled circular motions to the back, like “waxing”. Don’t lose your posture!
Stand in front of a chair with the chair directly behind you. Adjust your posture: shoulders down and back, abs contracted and hips in neutral position. Then — and this is the trick — keep that posture, as you lower your hips down to the chair. Lightly sit (or touch) the chair then stand back up. Push your weight through your heels and contract your abs as you push back up. Don’t let your shoulders round as you lower to the chair!
3) Pelvic Tilt
You can do this standing or lying on the floor. If lying on the floor, imagine your hips like a bucket of water and tilt your hips toward the floor as if pouring all the water out. As you tilt in, super-sonic squeeze your abs! Then slowly bring the hips back to starting position. This is a small movement, but should be done slowly and deliberately.
Perform these 3 basic exercises at least 3 times per week for 2 – 3 minutes each. You can do one-minute rotations: performing each exercise for one minute, then cycling through all 3 exercises 2 – 3 times.
Last but not least, you can work on your posture all day, everyday… seriously! Next time you sit down to a computer, take a walk… whatever, contract your abs and pull your shoulders down and back. Your body will thank you.