May Is Posture Month!
You may think that standing and bending over clients all day is what compromises your posture, but what you do at home after work may be making things worse. Slumping over a computer, rolling your shoulders forward in order to text and even some sleeping positions work against your efforts to hold your body straight.
Posture expert Dr. Steven Weiniger, author of Stand Taller Live Longer, An Anti-Aging Strategy, advises asking a friend to take a picture of you standing straight, against a neutral background, from the front, back and side. Most likely the photo will show you pulling your shoulders back. How long can you hold that position? Weiniger says you probably can’t hold it for more than a minute—which is just as well, because you’re also probably jutting your head forward. That silhouette is doing you more harm than good.
Rather than pulling back your shoulders, first stabilize the pelvis. “Addressing posture by only repositioning the shoulders usually makes body alignment worse,” Weiniger says. “Your body is accustomed to moving how it’s been trained, so the challenge begins with learning the feeling of stronger alignment. Posture is about balance, not just about being straight. Posture is the sum total of what you are doing with your each part of your body individually—head and shoulders, belly and hips—to keep from falling down.”
To retrain your body to align each area, try Weiniger’s 5 Steps to Standing Taller:
- Stand tall, not stiff. Relax, and lengthen or float your head toward the ceiling.
- Ground your feet. Slowly come up onto your toes, and then switch to your heels. Roll your feet out, and then in. Press all four corners of your feet into the ground.
- Center your pelvis. Arch your low back, and then so the opposite and tuck your pelvis. Find the center point as you lengthen your spine.
- Open your torso. Raise your shoulders, and roll them back. Keep your neck lengthened and your head tall as you pull your shoulders back down.
- Level your head. Look straight ahead, and tuck your chin slightly to keep it level.
With each step, take a slow breath. Repeat these five steps 2-3 times a day. When you sit, pay attention to the tilt of your pelvis. A forward tilt helps to align the pelvis squarely under the torso for best results.
“Don’t be surprised when you feel lighter and your chest feels more open,” Weiniger says. “After a few weeks, often others will notice a difference as well.”
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