I have terrible posture. In fact, I entitled this post “posture pointers” because I’m really pointing at myself. The other day, I arrived somewhere late (Dontcha hate that?), and I had to walk across the front of a crowded room full of already seated people to get to my seat. I felt like 1000 set of eyes were on me. So what did I do? I stood up straight and tried my best to project confidence as I walked for probably 3.8 seconds (it felt like 15) across the front of the room. It left me wondering why I don’t think about my posture more, and I resolved to work on it. Are you a slumper and a sloucher like me? Today I’m sharing some pointers to help us do a better job of aligning our bodies the way we should. Perfect posture, here we come!
1. Make Quick Corrections
Have you heard of “tech neck?” It’s the poor posture that results from rounding our shoulders and jutting our heads forward as we look at our tech devices. Spine specialists say that long term it can cause muscle strain, disc injury, nerve issues and even arthritic changes of the neck. The solution? Take breaks every 5 minutes or so when using your device, and when possible, bring it up to eye level. (I am a terrible head jutter, y’all. Just being aware of the issue has been helpful in trying to combat it.) As far as other postural issues go, Katy Bowman, M.S. a biomechanist and author of Dynamic Aging: Simple Exercises for Whole Body Mobility, says there are five main steps to standing taller:
- Pull your head back, lower your chin, and elongate your neck. Relax your shoulders.
- Align your rib cage over your pelvis, and hold your ribs down, not thrust forward.
- When standing, put your body weight over your heels.
- Straighten your knees but don’t hyperextend them.
- Stand with feet pelvis-width apart, feet pointing forward.
2. Strengthen Posture-Supporting Muscles
The Posture Perfect Workout App Lite (free) and the Posture Perfect Workout App ($.99) are available in the app store. You calibrate your ideal posture with your phone in your shirt pocket, then launch the 15-minute exercise trainer. For the next 15 minutes, you go about your daily routine and try to maintain good posture. The phone will vibrate if you start to slump. The program runs for 21 days, with the idea that it takes that long to build in the muscle memory to form healthy postural habits.
Since posture is really all about strengthening the muscles in your neck, shoulders, back, and core, the exercises that I demonstrated in my post called Fitness Over Fifty: Five Exercises Everyone 50+ Should be Doing will hit all of these key muscle groups. For more help, check out my favorite (free) online workout videos by Fitness Blender. I talked about them in this post. They have a 17-minute video specifically designed to help with better posture. It’s not difficult and will help strengthen your shoulders and neck.
3. Get Support
There are a couple of tools that can help in your quest for perfect posture. (Click any of the images below for more information.)
Sitsmart is a back support cushion designed to take the pressure off your lower back when you’re sitting. It provides lumbar support, relieves sciatica pain, and corrects your posture. You can use it in any seat.
The Gaiam Restore Balance Seat is designed to help you improve your posture as you sit by training your muscles. You can also use it for exercises like pushups and squats to strengthen your core. It’s inflatable so you can customize the firmness.
Lumo Lift is billed as a posture coach and activity tracker. It works with an app on your phone. You attach a small, magnetic sensor to the upper part of your shirt, close to your collarbone. Then get into your ideal posture, and calibrate it by pressing the sensor. If you start slouching, it will gently vibrate to remind you to sit up straight. I have a friend with excellent posture who swears by this device.
My floral ruffle sleeve tee (25% off right now) and stretch denim skirt are both from the Draper James collection at Nordstrom. My navy wedge espadrilles are such classics that Ralph Lauren makes them every year! I’ve had mine for three years, and I just keep coming back to them again and again. I love that they work with everything from dressy shorts to skirts and dresses. If you’ve been hanging around here, you know that I am obsessed with comfortable shoes that are also stylish. These fit the bill!
I think that a big part of improving our posture is simply awareness. If you see me around, feel free to remind me to stand up straight. (Just tell me that if I do, I’ll look slimmer, younger, and more confident.) I’ll do the same for you!