How to improve and correct your posture | Easy tips for less pain, injury prevention and better performance
Good Posture, nutrition and exercise are the 3 pillars to optimal health. You really can’t do anything 100% if your posture isn’t correct. Having good posture can help to get rid of your back pain, headaches, fatigue, prevent injuries and more but how do we get it? I’m sharing lots of ways on how to improve your posture with tips for the office, life, gym and everyday.
Why is good posture important?
Less pain, fatigue and headaches
Minimize your risk of injuries
Improve performance mentally and physically.
Easy tips to improve and correct your posture for less pain and better performance
Learn how to how to improve posture with these easy and free tips anyone can do.
I learned a lot about the skeletal system, muscle imbalances and posture as a sports massage therapist and a ballerina living with scoliosis.
I’m sharing the experts top tips for better posture for overall optimal health in this podcast, video and blog post.
Finding The Balance : World Posture Summit Interview
World Posture Summit – How to improve posture
This was my first time talking at the World Posture Virtual Summit. After years as a professional dancer, personal trainer, WBFF Pro and Sports Massage Therapist I had insights to share both from my own issues (scoliosis) and from seeing clients.
If you’re like the vast majority of the population that spend so much time sitting, then I’m pretty sure you’ll have one of the most common postural issues seen today: Sitting disease, Tech Neck , Upper or Lower Cross Syndrome (yes, they’re actual things and they can be fixed).
The World Posture Month Virtual Summit kicked off on May 24th with 40 of the World’s top posture experts teaming up to provide you with simple solutions on how to improve posture, to help you look, move and feel better.
During our condensed, easy to follow, practical masterclasses, we shared valuable knowledge, education, and resources to help increase your knowledge and awareness on preventing and overcoming these postural disorders. The aim being to help the millions of people out there who are suffering.
Good posture’s not just about looks. Poor posture has been directly related to issues such as neck & back pain, migraines, fatigue, and even in some cases early death.
Posture is the foundation to health
The problem is most people are not aware of this. It’s actually said that “Posture is the foundation to health”. Yet so many people have never even been told about it.
As a professional dancer, I was lucky to have my scoliosis diagnosed early on and to be able to do private pilates classes at ballet school which involved core strengthening and stabilization exercises.
I didn’t develop too much pain until later on, about 10 years into my professional dancing career, where my sciatica was getting unmanageable. Even with regular chiropractic work which included neck traction, as I also have a reverse curve in my neck.
Obviously, shoe inserts were only an option outside of dancing not during!
I transitioned to fitness as way to help people reach their goals the proper way: healthily and slowly by creating lifestyle habits.
One of the most interesting courses I completed was Sports massage therapy where I learnt about body mechanics. This was a more defining moment than anything I’d learnt in my personal training certifications. Nutrition, Exercise and Posture are the 3 pillars to optimal health.
You really can’t do anything 100% if your posture isn’t correct.
How does poor posture affect your health?
Wear and tear on your spine and joints
A contributing factor to degenerative arthritis
How does posture affect our mental health and confidence?
Posture affects you not just physically but mentally.
Do this test: stand up and strike a power pose; I personally love the ‘Wonder Woman’ pose.
The structure of our body dictates the function, notice how when you hold a power pose, you have more confidence; posture really change how we feel physically and mentally about ourselves through that strong posture.
What are the benefits of proper alignment?
When your bones are in alignment, your muscles and lungs can function more efficiently. Good posture also helps to prevent injury, strain on your ligaments, and allows you to breath more easily. If your posture’s off, how can you work your muscles evenly or even activate them?
How does good posture help onstage?
Good posture helps not just with stage performance but in interviews, which is the 1st round of any pageant and lets face it, most jobs come down to your interview. It’s where you meet your potential employer or judge(s), and where your posture is critical; it can automatically make you look more or less confident from the moment you walk through the door.
Secondly, muscular balance and core strength creates overall balance, which means you’re less likely to fall on stage, unless your heel breaks or you didn’t put the correct soles on your shoes.
When you have balanced muscles and a strong core, your good posture will allow you to carry yourself with poise. In bodybuilding competitions and pageants it’s even more important, when they’re judging you on your tapered (or not) waist and symmetry.
How can I correct my posture at the gym?
Common Postural Mistakes People Make At the Gym.
Don’t work just mirror muscles: I know we all want to look good but if you only focus on the muscles you see in the mirror you’re setting yourself up to create muscular and postural imbalances. Don’t forget your reverse chain muscles. Create muscular balance by thinking of training the body 360° work forward, backwards, laterally and diagonally. For every push do a pull, for every contraction an extension.
Set fixed path machines correctly: Set the machines at the correct placement for your size. Listen to your body; if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it and switch to using free weights instead. Free weights are great at creating balance in the body as you can’t compensate with your strong side.
Don’t use momentum: the gym is not the time to be vain; I don’t care how hot the guy/girl next to you is; it will only lead to injury and imbalances. Drop the weight until you can lift with perfect form and then show that off rather than how much you can’t actually lift!
3 recommendations for better posture on a daily basis
1. Be self aware wherever you are: Take time to do a mental check-in; how are you sitting/ standing? Are you leaning? Is your weight placed evenly? Are you slumping? Are you breathing properly?
2. Get to know your body and do corrective exercises; strengthening and stretching to get or keep everything in balance. Work your body evenly to create balance, which in turn will create good posture. If you’re not sure if you have Sitting disease, Upper or Lower Cross Syndrome, or Tech Neck, read the section immediately below for stretches and strengthening exercises to help.
3. Work your core and back muscles to literally create a brace for your spine. Remember when you’re doing these exercises to activate the muscles and create a mind body connection, as well as pulling in rather than allowing your stomach to push out.
Upper Cross Syndrome
Upper-crossed syndrome (UCS) is also referred to as proximal or shoulder girdle crossed syndrome. This is where tightness of the upper trapezius and levator scapula on the dorsal side crosses with tightness of the pectoralis major and minor. Along with weakness of the deep cervical flexors, ventrally, crosses with weakness of the middle and lower trapezius.
This muscle imbalance can lead to functional dysfunction: joint dysfunction, stress within the spine and altered movement patterns.
If you’re not familiar with these muscles, look for a forward head posture, increased cervical lordosis and thoracic kyphosis, elevated and protracted shoulders, and rotation or abduction and winging of the scapulae.
Treatment includes chiropractic care, physical therapy and exercises such as the ones below.
To counteract Upper Cross Syndrome
Strengthen your weak muscles
Deep neck flexor exercises (play a key role in maintaining the neck’s posture).
Stretch tight muscles
Use your hand(s) to gently pull your head forward with your chin toward your neck as if you were nodding. Hold this position for 10 to 15 seconds.
Side stretch: As above but to each side so your ear gets closer to your the shoulder.
Diagonal stretch: As above but diagonally forward so your chin moves closer to your shoulder.
Pectorals: Either clasp your hands together behind your glutes and with your arms extended slowly lift them upwards while keeping hands clasped. Alternatively, place one hand on a pole or wall at shoulder height and gently rotate away from the wall.
Levator scapulae: While sitting, use your left hand to take your chin down towards your left shoulder. Then use your right hand to grab the chair behind you or wrap behind your waist to resist.
You can also try lying flat on the ground with a thick pillow placed 1/3 of the way up your back in alignment with your spine. While lying here, allow your arms and shoulders to roll out and your legs to fall open in a natural position. Your head should be neutral, you may use a pillow for support. Holed this position for 10–15 minutes and repeat several times throughout the day. Maybe, while taking a break away from your desk.
How Does Alignment Affect Your Breathing?
Take a moment and notice how you’re breathing; your breathing is directly correlated to your posture. When you’re upright, it’s so much easier to breath!
Whenever you have a moment; slow down your breathing, switch from shallow chest breathing to deep belly breathing, and let go of any tension.
What are the best stretches to do in the morning?
Keep it dynamic (moving) not static (held) as your muscles aren’t warm and pliable as soon as you jump (or struggle) out of bed.
Gently roll down as far as you can towards the floor and back up, trying to isolate each vertabra by vertabra.
Gentle bends side to side, not held stretches.
Slow neck circles.