When you walked in to the room today, whether it be to a business meeting, a lunch or an evening event, were you aware of how you were holding your body?
Posture can be defined in two ways. The first being the position in which someone holds their body upright when standing or sitting and the second being a particular approach or attitude. They are one and the same though yes? If you’re upright, shoulders back, core engaged you look strong, confident and in control. How does a person who has rounded shoulders and hunched over appear to you? A little negative and unapproachable?
Let’s look at 5 things that negatively affect your posture and how to correct this:
1. Sitting down – I’m not asking you to constantly stand but what I am asking is for you to sit correctly. We all sit in a chair hips in front of the spine with our tailbone tucked, our back and shoulders rounded and slumped. STOP! Get your hips underneath your spine, chest up, shoulders back and you’re already in a better position.
2. Vitamin D deficiency –If you’re not getting enough natural sunlight UV exposure which stimulates Vitamin D production in the body, then in turn you’re not absorbing enough calcium from your diet to strengthen your bones. Weak bones will lead to back and neck pain directly affecting your posture. An article in the July 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" states that vitamin D deficiency is associated with throbbing, aching pain and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. Too hot outside? We can also get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs. Also consider supplements to kick-start those D levels.
3. Core strength – It’s fine me asking you to hold your body upright but if your core (this is not just your abs but also the deeper muscles including the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor) is not strong or engaged you’ll slip back into bad posture. You can strengthen your core doing Pilates, TRX or Yoga classes but in truth it needs to be used in any movement so please seek out a fitness professional first to help with first steps.
4. Flexibility – We’re all sit in a chair, check Instagram on our mobiles, read emails hunched over laptops. It looks bad but what it also does is shorten our hip flexors and hamstrings, and shortens the pecs (chest muscles). Tight hips will tip the body forward whilst walking and the short chest muscles will pull the shoulders forward giving that beautiful hunched look. Flexibility IS an element of fitness so needs to be worked on as much as cardio and strength training. Try 10 mins extra stretching on your hips, glutes and hamstrings after every session this week, your posture will improve immediately.
5. Mind-Body Connection – Exactly what it says on the label. You have to also be aware of your posture. If you remain oblivious to your body position it will relax and slump back in to old habits. Try standing, setting your shoulders back and down, switching on your core EVERY time you need to move. Make it habitual and the body will soon learn that this is the way to move. Your body will look fitter, your confidence will improve and you’ll own the room as soon as you glide into it.