With the summer holidays soon upon us the desire to hone that perfect beach body becomes an increasing priority. So, you will be pleased to hear there is a sure and safe way to look slimmer and it doesn’t involve any fad dieting. All you need to do is stand up straight. Good posture makes you look taller, slimmer and it can improve confidence as well as providing health benefits, such as preventing aches and pains to back, neck, hips and knees.
Having a good posture can also actually help with weight loss, it strengthens your core and adds a small extra-calorie burn because you are working that bit harder to maintain the position. Standing up straight on a regular basis will help to build core muscles in the abdomen and back and after a while the muscles will build to such an extent that standing up straight will become natural. Additionally standing up helps bodies breathe better. Better breathing helps to stimulate the metabolism and so we are able to burn calories faster.
There are even more benefits to perfecting your posture, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. We have already discussed how good posture can improve breathing and reduce aches and pains. It also improves circulation and can prevent repetitive strain injuries.Teaching the body negative patterns of muscle use, takes up more energy, resulting in fatigue and low-grade pain. So it stands to reason that improving posture can increase energy levels and reduce pain.
So how can you tell if your posture could be improved – the best way is to do a posture check:
1. Take off your shoes and find a flat expanse of wall.
2. With your back to the wall, press your heels and bum against it.
3. Slide one of your hands between the wall and your low back.
The space should only be about the width of your hand, anything much bigger and you know there’s a problem with over curvature. Too much curve in the low back will pull your head forward and round your shoulders. This posture looks unattractive and can lead to a variety of physical strains and pains throughout the body. Too small and your hamstrings and lower back can tighten and pull your spine out of alignment. A healthy spine has an inward curve at the lower back, an outward curve at the shoulder blades and in again at the neck.
Practical posture improvements
Improving posture is something we can all start to do immediately. Little changes throughout the day to pelvis, legs and feet will provide a great foundation for better posture. Here are some immediate changes that can be made to the way you sit, stand and move:
– Sit with uncrossed legs and feet flat on the floor.
– Adjust chair height so hips are slightly higher than knees, to redistribute weight between feet, thighs, hips and lower back
– Relax and open shoulder muscles and hold abdominal muscles firm
– Head and neck should be in line with the spine
– If using keyboards and monitors have them straight in front of you with screens at eye level
– Stand with weight distributed evenly between and across your feet, bring your body weight forward so you aren’t balanced on your heels
– Keep knees slightly bent, locked knees tip the pelvis forward and squeeze the lower lumbar area of the back
– Pull you belly button towards your spine to form a strong core for stability, shoulders should be relaxed not hunched
– Keep head and neck in line with shoulders and chin parallel to the floor
You may have taught your muscles bad habits, so practice making these minor adjustments every day, checking yourself periodically to make sure you are aligned. You could make a big difference to your health and well being – and feel more body confident on that beach.