Dancers don’t underestimate the power of posture. And the proof is in their beautiful body-lines and graceful gait, but it’s an after thought in the fitness world unfortunately. As a long time fit pro, I’ve gotta say, it will behoove you to pay closer attention to your posture. It is powerful. When it’s right, posture creates an ease of movement. When it’s off centered, it zaps energy, stifles movement and causes pain. Posture, health and quality of life are actually heavily intertwined, so it pays to pay attention to posture.
What is good posture?
Good posture heeds to its plumb line, the line of gravity that runs from head to toe, through the ears, shoulders, hips straight on down to the heels. When the body is standing upright, the plumb line should be perpendicular to the floor. Less-than-perfect posture disrupts this perpendicular line and could lead to zapped energy, stifled movement and back pain. Posture speaks volumes without saying a word. Read below and see what your posture is saying about you.
Posture type: The Turtle
What it looks like: Your head leads the way as it is in front of the shoulders. Ideally the head stacks on top of the shoulders.
Why it’s a problem: This posture causes severe shoulder and neck tension, which could eventually lead to headaches and a false sense of fatigue.
What it may signify: You don’t inhabit “the now” as your mind is caught up in to-do lists and future events.
Fitness fix: Do solitary, breathing-centric exercise without media or outside stimulation. It will pull you into the present moment, like yoga or an Ipod-less walk in the woods.
Lifestyle fix: Remember time is not the enemy. Avoid feeling rushed by enjoying some leisurely moments throughout your day.
Posture type: The Shoulder Slope
What it looks like: One shoulder is lower than the other. Ideally, both shoulders should create a straight line parallel to the floor.
Why it’s a problem: Over time, this could cause a lack of mobility in the spine and chronic back pain.
What it may signify: You’ve been participating in a workout regime that does NOT promote symmetry (like most sports).
Fitness fix: Pilates is so good (!) when it comes to restoring balance between right and left sides of the body. All hail to the Joe Pilates – it really fixes this problem with speed and precision!
Lifestyle fix: Pay attention when you dominate with one side. Do you carry your bag on your right side every time? Switch it up and make the left side do the work too.
Posture type: The Sunken Chest
What it looks like: The shoulders hunch forward, rounding the upper back. This causes the ribcage to sink back. Ideally the breastbone is in front of the clavicles.
Why it’s a problem: This posture is bad for breathing as it closes off the upper part of the lungs. It also causes excessive tension in the chest and a sense of low energy in the whole body. It zaps your get-up-and-go!
What it may signify: You’re wiped out. This posture issue belongs to someone with physical and/or emotional fatigue and/or sickness.
Fitness fix: Try non-competitive, short and sweet cardio, like a 10minute walk in the park, mixed daily with gentle back bends, like Cobra pose or Cow pose.
Lifestyle fix: Pamper yourself with more “me time” like an extra long soak in the tub, an afternoon nap or splurge on a massage. You’ve been sending too much of your energy to others and need to send some to yourself.
For the last few years, I’ve been struggling with The Sunken Chest. My 4 year old has me on the run and I could use a couple more hours of sleep. Plus, in the US, we are coming off a cold winter where shivering puts my shoulders forward (and I’m a world class shiverer!). In the past, I wouldn’t be aware of my posture, so now by just being aware of it, I’m half way done fixing it.