A properly aligned healthy posture provides the following benefits:
- Improves your appearance
- Reduces the occurrence of tension headaches
- Decreases back pain and shoulder discomfort
- Reduces the risk of spinal injuries
- Will make you appear taller and thinner
- You will look confident
Factors contributing to poor posture include:
- High heel shoes
- Tight or weak muscles
- Poor sitting or standing habits
- Ectomorphs tend to be lightly muscled/ weak making them prone to poor posture
In order to achieve great posture you need to be conscious of how you are holding your body and support your body to maintain this posture with core work, strength-training exercises and stretching.
HOW TO IMPROVE POSTURE
At first, changing your posture will feel unnatural and a little difficult. However, with practice and resistance training exercise you can make good posture part of your normal way of sitting, standing and walking.
- Find the ‘neutral spine’ position, by rocking forward and back until you find the most comfortable upright position.
- Push back your shoulder blades. Keep your shoulders and shoulder blades down and back, such that they are positioned towards each other. Imagine you are trying to squeeze an orange between your shoulder blades.
- Align your head over your shoulders. Once you move your shoulder blades back, your head will naturally align with your shoulders. This also relaxes your neck muscles and can reduce the incidence of tension headaches.
- Pull your belly button in towards your spine. Imagine that your belly button is being pulling in and up the spine. This go a long way in improving your shapes, make you look slimmer and help flatten your tummy, help to give the appearance of a flatter tummy.
- Posture exercises to strengthen your core and back muscles.
POSTURE EXERCISES FOR YOUR CORE MUSCLES
Balance and posture are very dependent on the strength of your core muscles. Your core muscles include your transverse abdominus (i.e. abs), your internal and external obliques, as well as the the muscles that run along your spine. Strengthening these muscles can significantly improve posture. You are much more likely to stand in a neutral, healthy position whilst exercising.
There are different ways you can strengthen your core; Pilates and yoga are excellent workouts which target the core muscle groups. You may not break out in a sweat as you do during an intense cardio workout, but you are guaranteed to feel the effects of the workout the next day! Exercising with a Swiss ball is great for targeting the abdominal or core muscles. One or two sets consisting each of 15 reps of exercises such as crunches, leg and arm extensions, planks, back extensions, wall and a variety of other moves on the balance ball will challenge and strengthen the entire body. You can also use the Swiss ball outside of your workouts. Sitting on a Swiss ball has been shown to be better on your back than a standard chair. Try it out and see if it works for you.
POSTURE EXERCISES FOR YOUR BACK MUSCLES
In addition to you core muscles you need to consider the muscles supporting your spine that run along your back. Therefore, don’t forget to strengthen your upper back. Swimming is a particularly good exercise to strengthen the back. Stretch before and after your swim. Another great exercise targeting your back muscles is rowing, which like swimming is full body workout.