I Want Better Posture!
This topic of better posture is near and dear to me, and something that comes up regularly in conversations with clients. For some, you might be tired of me continually hitting on it, but it bears repeating!
I was driving the other day around town and my attention was drawn to my posture. You know how I felt? I felt like this guy looks….
Remember this guy from the Looney Tunes cartoons? “Which way did he go, which way did he go?” Well, as I drew awareness to my posture in the car, I could feel my sternum dropped down into my abdomen, my shoulder slumped forward, my neck collapsed, and my head kicked back. And this from a Rolfer?! Yep. I am human, too. I still have to catch myself and self-correct sloppy postural habits.
Posture Tips and Tricks
Today, I would like to take a few moments to help equip you with little tips and tricks to help you gain greater self-awareness as you go about your day to day so you can be self-correcting your posture, and feeling all the better for it! Over time this re-education of the body will result in a stickiness to your habits, to where a new normal is established and you find your body wanting and gravitating to sit and stand taller.
Whether sitting or standing, one of the first things to draw your awareness to is your pelvis–specifically your sits bones. These are the two bony points at the bottom of your bum, derrière, fanny, whatever you like to call your backside. For more on sitting properly, click here, for a previous article about how to sit comfortably and with better posture.
Your pelvis is central to good posture. You don’t want to be in front of, behind, to the side, or rotated around your pelvis. This tends to result in discomfort, immobility, and compensating postural shifts as your head works to adjust and position itself on top of your body.
It might be worth using a mirror as you practice this so you can have the visual of what this new and improved posture begins to look like in your body. Then, try closing your eyes to help you begin to internally sense how this posture feels in your body.
If standing, you want your heels positioned underneath your sits bones (AKA Ischial Tuberosities, for those wanting to know the actual anatomy). You want your heels to be about the same, hip-width distance apart as the sits bones. Right off the bat this may feel funny to you, but keep at it, and it will feel more normal. Moving up the body, your knees should be above your heels, and underneath your pelvis.
From here, we want to draw our attention to our upper body. We have now created a strong foundation of support up through our feet and pelvis, so the goal is for the upper body to more easily, and effortlessly, rest on the structures below. Afterall, posture is supposed to be effortless.
As you stand there, I want you to straighten your spine, pull your shoulders back and down, push your chest out, and pull your head back. You might notice that while you “look” like you have good posture, it comes with a great deal of effort and not something you can sustain on your own. You might even notice breathing gets more restricted. This might be what you see in the mirror or at least feel in your body….This is NOT what we are going for!
Now, shake that out!
Let’s try another approach. Without getting too far in the details of all the anatomy of the upper body, the best cue I give people in attaining a soft and easy posture correction is to imagine lifting your sternum, AKA your breastbone. That’s it. Just imagine your sternum lifting. As you do this, you might even feel it being a full-body adjustment with a lift up through your body coming from your pelvis. Shoulders naturally begin to float back and down, the head positions itself over the shoulders, breathing begins to expand more fully. Lastly, notice the positioning of your head–is your head kicked back and your chin jutting upward? Think about lengthening the back of your neck, and this will automatically drop your chin. Ahhhhh…feels good, right?
As you do this, if you feel areas of tension, it might be that you are holding things tightly. Take a deep breath, think about channeling that breath to the area of tension, and see if you can let the holding go. Additionally, if this is a new posture for you, your body is trying to make sense of it, and is starting to recruit the correct core structures needed to sustain this new and fabulous posture. Over time this fatigue or tension will go away as the strength and endurance is built in your core.
There You Have It! Nice and Simple!
Does this seem doable to you to incorporate into your day to day? Isn’t it nice to have something that is simple for a change?! All you need to think about are your sits bones and sternum. Don’t get down on yourself and abandon the process if you slip back into old habits; it takes time to break old habits and replace them with new ones. If you keep at this, I have all certainty and confidence you will start to hold in the new posture longer and also start to reap the benefits of standing and sitting properly. You will find you stop having to think about it all the time because it happens naturally. You might notice back pain goes away, neck and shoulder tension disappear, jaw tension subsides…and did I mention when sitting and standing properly you look vibrant, confident, and thinner?! Who doesn’t want that!!!
I hope you enjoy this article. Please share with others that would benefit from these posture tips and tricks!