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Don’t be a slouch

IT’S EASIER THAN YOU THINK TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE

Don’t be a slouch. Sit up straight. Stand up straight and tall. Keep your head above your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips. Let your arms hang naturally at your sides.

It seems like there are many steps to take to achieve good posture. But experts say if you tweak your habits and explore some exercise routines that are designed to specifically improve posture, it can become an achievable goal.

You should be aware of your body movements while doing everyday activities like watching television and walking the dog. 

“Good posture can be successfully acquired only when the entire mechanism of the body is under perfect control,” said Joseph Pilates, German physical trainer and founder of the Pilates method of physical fitness. 

There are two kinds of posture: Dynamic posture is the way you hold yourself while in motion. Static posture is the way you hold yourself while sitting, standing up, or sleeping. 

The key to maintaining good posture is the position of your spine. Slumping and slouching on a regular basis may take a toll on your spine, rendering it more susceptible by misaligning your musculoskeletal system, and may decrease flexibility and invite back, neck, and shoulder pain. 

Pilates2‘Tech neck’ has become a common way to refer to pain due to constant use of devices which requires the user to look down for long periods of time to check emails. 

Strengthening muscles around the back, abdomen and pelvis through yoga, Pilates, tai chi, and other types of exercise classes can make the road to improved posture attainable.       

It’s also important to maintain a healthy weight. A little extra weight can weaken abdominal muscles, which can affect your pelvis and spine and lead to lower back pain, according to medlineplus.gov.

“You can never make a first impression twice — that’s why good posture is key,” says Judith Jones, a Broadway and ballet dancer and choreographer at Youth Opera International.  

JONES OFFERS A FEW TIPS:

  • Avoid crossing your legs when sitting and make sure you have back support in the form of a pillow or backrest that can support the lower curve of your back.
  • Hard chairs are the worst for your posture and your body in general. A well-padded seat gives essential support to your hips and thighs.
  • Get in the habit of keeping both soles of your feet on the ground — don’t cross your ankles or tuck your feet under you. 
  • Keeping your computer at eye level is one of the best ways to help maintain good posture while working. 

For women, experts say that wearing comfortable, low-heeled shoes will contribute to better posture; high heels can throw your balance off by over-arching your back.

High heels also put more weight on the knees. 

“When someone tells me that I look great, I say thanks, then share a secret: It’s not the clothes or the makeup; it’s my posture,” says Denise Austin, fitness instructor and former member of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports.