How to improve your posture to feel and look better

Good posture of dancer

Yes, this is a post about your posture. no I’m not going to be like your grandma reminding you to pull your shoulders back sit up straight while playing the piano.

It turns out though, that your grandma had a good reason for nagging so much about your posture. There’s a lot of parts of your life that posture can affect both positively and negatively. I’ll highlight some of these and then provide a couple of recommendations for how you can work to improve your posture.

Digestion 

There are many factors that are involved in digestion, from how well you chew your food to the makeup of your gut microbiome. One of the easiest ways to improve your digestion is to simply have good posture.

Once you eat your food and it goes down your esophagus, your body sends it on a roller coaster ride through a bunch of tubes in your body in order to remove the nutrients of the food that your body needs.

Having good posture helps digestion in two ways, the first is it allows gravity to help in the process, second good posture keeps your body in a position it was designed to be in which means your intestines are able to function the way they were designed.

If you have digestion problems, you may want to assess your posture and see if you can improve it somehow.

Confidence 

There’s a popular Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy where she talks about power poses and the effects that your posture can have on your confidence.

When you have correct posture, where you sit upright, with your head over your shoulders, your shoulders back, and your chest out, you put your body in a position that is not only comfortable and anatomically correct but also allows you to look and feel more confident.

Try this with me for a second, round your shoulders forward slump over. How does that make you feel? 

Now sit up straight or stand up straight. How does this position make you feel? 

Which one would you prefer to be in as you go throughout your day?

Having good posture will make you more confident in yourself and with your interactions with other people.

Fewer aches and pains

I mentioned earlier that the correct posture is more comfortable. In reality, for most people it’s not, but it can become comfortable over time. This is because you have trained your body to think that a different position is a correct position and now you need to retrain your body to sit correctly.

I have a year and a half old daughter and it’s amazing to see her sitting unsupported in the middle of the floor with her back and neck in a perfect line. She hasn’t yet developed bad habits that caused her to slump or slouch or her head to jet forward. 

This should be the goal for all of us – to reach a similar position with our posture. Where we’re sitting with our backs straight and our necks above our shoulders where it’s comfortable and effortless. 

As you work on it, you will notice that after a couple of months of consistently working at it, that aches and possibly pain you’ve had for years, will go away. Things like nagging headaches that you repeatedly get, neck pain, or hip pain. Often all this pain is self-inflicted unwittingly, unknowingly, because, in the moment, incorrect posture does not hurt or feel bad but in that position over time will cause pain. 

It’s not a result that you’ll get immediately but as you practice it over time you will have fewer aches and pains as you improve your posture.

Healthier appearance 

Imagine two people, one with the typical poor posture that we can all imagine, and the other, not with their chest puffed up feigning good posture but with their ears, shoulders, and hips all lining up in a straight line. Think about how either person looks, how do you perceive them and their personalities?

Good posture not only looks healthier, it is healthier. By working to improve your posture, you’ll look and be healthier.

It will make you look like you have less body fat and more muscle. You will appear more intelligent and self-aware.

I’m not saying that it’s true or right that people judge other people in this way, but the reality is that it happens.

So if you want to feel better look better and be perceived in a better light, make sure you work on and keep good posture.

Corrective exercises

Probably the most common postural issue is forward shoulder. I’m sure you can imagine someone, possibly even yourself, who has this where their shoulders roll forward which also curves their upper spine. One of the best ways to reverse this is to focus on the muscles opposite the chest muscles. 

We do so much in front of our bodies, essentially everything. This can and does cause an imbalance. Here’s a list of things to help with foreword shoulder:

  • Band pull-aparts 
  • Barbell rows
  • Scapular shrugs and circles

Another common deviation in posture is when the head and neck are stretched in front of the shoulders and body. Think of cell phone posture. There’s not much as far as weight training that can be done for this but there are some cues that will help you.

  • Think of tucking your chin. Don’t worry about the double chin. 
  • Imagine a string attached to the very top of your head pulling you up. Try pulling the hair on the top of your head as feedback.

Make sure to practice these throughout your day. The more you practice these movements, the more natural they’ll become for you. 

What problems do you have with your posture?

What are other things you do to help your posture?

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