Look and feel better by improving your posture
Good posture doesn’t just look great; it also has wonderful health benefits for the body and mind. If you work in an office, chances are your posture will have suffered over the years. Are you slouched over your computer or tablet right now? Try sitting up straight – shoulders back and down and chest open for 30 seconds and see how it feels. Better yet, try to maintain that posture as you read the rest of this blog. If it’s painful, try the exercises and stretches we’ve suggested at the end and after a few weeks, you should notice a major improvement in your posture.
Why do I need to have good posture?
1. You can breathe properly when you have good posture. With an open chest and straight back, your lungs are able to take in a lot more air than if you are slouched or hunched over. Oxygen, of course, is essential for circulation, skin health and energy levels to name just a few of its many benefits!
2. By breathing properly, your concentration improves markedly because the brain requires 20 per cent oxygen to work properly.
3. It looks good! Don’t you think people with good posture look smarter, more confident and more attractive? That’s because it makes the most of whatever height you have, it makes your body look longer and more elegant, and you look like you know what you’re doing and where you’re going.
4. Good posture doesn’t only make you look more confident and attractive – it also makes you feel more self-confident and beautiful.
5. It’s good for your back. People with bad postures are increasing their risk of a slipped disc, back aches and pains, pressure in the chest and bad blood circulation. Good posture on the other hand minimises these risks because you are standing or sitting in the way you were designed to.
So how do I stand with good posture?
You should try to work on maintaining good posture at all times to train your body to do it naturally. Try it the next time you’re standing in line or walking to the shops. Your shoulders should be back and down so that your chest feels open (imagine your collarbones stretching), then tuck your tailbone in slightly to elongate the spine and correct any major curve in the back. If you’re standing, plant both feet on the ground – no leaning on one leg – and line your hips up underneath your shoulders and your head on top of your spine. Don’t let your neck tilt forward or backwards.
Some great exercises to try
Back and core strengthening exercises help a lot with posture because a strong core and back will hold you in a better position and alleviate back pain. Back bends are another great option. Try these exercises for strength and flexibility.
1. Heart opener
Stand with a straight back, shoulders back and down and tailbone tucked in. Open your chest, clasping your hands behind your back as you inhale. Round the back and clasp the hands in front of you on an exhale. Do 10 rounds of these when you wake up in the morning, and if you feel tired at work during the day, stand up and do them next to your desk.
2. Locust or bow pose
Lay down flat on your front with your arms stretched out in front. Exhale all the air from your lungs and lift your arms, chest and legs off the ground as you inhale. Take a few breaths in this pose, which is an incredibly effective back strengthening exercise as well as chest opener. If you want to open your chest and work your back even more, bend your knees and take hold of your feet behind you. Exhale and then lift your chest and thighs off the ground for bow pose. Hold the pose for a few breaths and try not to let your legs open more than hip width apart.
3. Warrior 1
Stand with your legs apart – front knee bent, back leg straight with your back foot pointing slightly forward and front heel lining up with the middle of the back foot. Turn your hips to face forward and lift your arms towards the sky. Keep your shoulders away from your ears(back and down) and make sure your back is straight. Take a few breaths in the pose and then swap legs.
Chest opening exercises are also great for energy so if you’re feeling tired at work, take a five minute break and try these exercises.