Do you have an office job that keeps you in front of the computer for hours on end? Do you head home after work only to slouch down on your comfy sofa and watch TV? Do you avoid doing any stretches and core exercises to counteract your slouching disposition? If any of these sound like you, then there may be some postural alignment therapy in store for you. But it’s ok, it’s simple to work on and the benefits are numerous. It’s really something that you shouldn’t avoid or put off doing, the damage that can surface as you age can be quite debilitating so it’s best to start becoming aware of it now rather than later.
So what does good posture look like? Imagine looking at yourself from the side. Your spine should have an ‘S’ curve to it. There is the cervical curve, which is an inward curve at the base of your neck; then there is the thoracic curve, which is an outward curve at your upper back, and then the lumbar curve, which is an inward curve at your lower back. Imagine a straight line going through your body where your head is centered over your body and your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all aligned. If your body deviates from this, then there are some issues that need to be worked on. A good way to test your posture is to stand against a wall with the back of your head and your bum touching the wall and your heels a few inches from the baseboard. Stick your hand between your lower back and the wall, and then between your neck and the wall. If there is a gap between your low back and the wall, and your neck and the wall, then your posture is right on. If your posture doesn’t allow for gaps, then you need to see where the discrepancies are and will have to work on strengthening or stretching those areas. Common issues are rounded shoulder which can mean you have weak upper back muscles and tight chest muscles. Good exercises here are back extensions or rows and corrective stretches for the chest muscles.
Always be aware of how you’re sitting or standing. Keep in mind to keep your shoulders back and relaxed, your abs pulled in for a strong core, and your weight equally balanced on both feet. A good way to promote good postural alignment when driving is to sit upright in your seat and adjust your rear view mirror for this position. Whenever you start to slouch a little, you’re made aware of it when trying to look in your mirror.
Once you get into the habit of tuning into your postural position, the better off you will be in the long run. It’s always best to do preventative exercises than corrective ones later in life.Anne Marie Costanzo is a nationally certified personal trainer and owner of Little Black Dress Personal Training. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (914) 841-1121.