Are you sitting up a little straighter after reading that headline? Or was it just me? I often find myself adjusting my posture when I think I’m being observed or when I hear someone else mentioning their own posture–which means I’m probably not tuning in often enough. We all would probably be better off, however, if we were more aware of how we’re sitting (or standing), i.e., treating our faithful bodies over the course of the day. Practicing good posture is a completely free way to reduce the likelihood of experiencing muscle tension while appearing more poised, confident, and healthy. I even feel happier when I’m paying attention to how I carry myself.
In an article appearing on Beauty and Well Being, Pilates instructor Erika Bloom insists there’s even more to good posture: “The benefits are numerous and wonderful,” she explains. “Superficially, we all look younger, thinner, more fluid and graceful, and more beautiful with good posture. Most remarkably, though, posture affects digestion, immunity, and metabolism.” Do you mean good posture could help keep us from coming down with a nasty bug? Or help us avoid indigestion?
“The neutral alignment of the spine allows the diaphragm—the main muscle of respiration—to expand down in engagement, as the breath fully fills the lungs,” she continues. “This correct movement of the diaphragm assists the organs in digestion, cleanses the adrenals of cortisol, and massages the liver. So essentially, proper alignment can give us good skin, keep us from getting sick, prevent bloat, help us sleep better and more!” Okay, now I’m really sitting up straight.
Unfortunately, the set up of our modern world puts an obvious strain on our bodies, often deeply influencing our default posture for the worse. From working at our desks to slumping over our phones, habitual positions often put our bodies in a forward-leaning, rather than neutral, position–and most of us can attest to the level of discomfort this causes. Therefore, there’s always work to be done when it comes to healthy posture. “It should be part of all of our regular self-care just like healthy eating and manicures are,” Bloom contends.
Posture expert Dr. Weigner echoes this: “The problem is, because we spend so much time with a forward flexing bias—when you’re looking at a screen, typing, hunched over, sitting, your body is folding forward—the muscles in front are being worked more in a shorter position [and] the muscles in back are having to work to hold you up to keep you from folding over. They’re constantly in a lengthened position, so your body molds into that position over time.” So what’s a modern gal to do?
How to Have Healthy, Beautiful Posture
One of the best ways to cultivate beautiful posture is through movement, Bloom explains. “Mindful movement that can be done with ease and attention to breath is the best for creating beautiful posture and preventing misalignment.” A regular practice of yoga, Pilates, and/or ballet-barre can be incredibly nourishing for your posture; meanwhile, these practices encourage posture awareness, so you’re more likely to naturally adjust your posture even when you’re not exercising.
Not sure where to start? Try these 4 Spinal Articulation Exercises for a Healthy Back.
Also try: 4 Chiropractor-Approved Stretches To Relieve Neck Pain And Tension.
When it comes to sitting and working at your desk, there are a few things you can do to ensure you’re maintaining healthy posture, Bloom says. “First, start with raising your computer screen up closer to eye level so you are not encouraged to slump or look down at your screen. Next, choose a chair that allows your feet to be flat on the floor with your knees lower than your hips. This will encourage you to find your neutral spine: your lower back will be slightly arched, your mid to upper back slightly rounded and your neck slightly arched. Feel the top of your head float up as your sitting bones reach down.”
Good posture isn’t just about sitting, of course. “We need proper movement in our feet to have correct alignment,” Bloom notes, explaining that our choice of shoes can make a big difference. “Think about one that allows the toes to properly flex as you walk—a too-tight, pointed high-heel or a flat that requires your toes to grip [down] to hold onto it, won’t do this. We can still choose beautiful, fashionable shoes if we keep this in mind. I love Anine Bing’s Lily Sneakers. In regards to our bag, the weight of the bag is the biggest consideration. Choose one that is not too heavy to start, and then use organization and minimalism to keep it from being so full that it becomes a strain on your shoulder!” Want more healthy shoe options? Check out these yogi-approved kicks.
Why not try a vegan leather cross-body bag like this gorgeous Stella McCartney? (A lightweight crossbody bag will more evenly distribute weight on your body than, say, a super-heavy weekender tote! It’s fashionable and healthy–a win-win!)
Do you give much thought to your posture over the course of a day?
Related: This Just In: Standing Desks Not The Miracle Cure To Our Office Job Woes
Sitting All Day Is *The Worst* For Your Health. How To Stay Well Even With A Desk Job
4 Easy Inversions That Banish Back Pain & Improve Posture
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Photo: Icons8 team on Unsplash, Erika Bloom via Instagram, Crystal Chin, Isabela Martins on Unsplash, Anine Bing, Stella McCartney