By Jules Delorme
One of the things we all too often miss as the point and the benefits of good fitness practice, one of the most overlooked parts of being fit, is good posture.
Good posture is the difference between back and/or neck pain, alertness and awareness, proper and full breathing and true relaxation.
It’s no accident that we seem more healthy when our posture is good and that our posture begins to collapse as we grow more tired, as we grow more insecure and as we grow less aware of our surroundings. Basically we collapse as our health and happiness collapses. And the reverse is true.
When we open up our postures we naturally become healthier, happier and more open to the world around us. Good posture involves a long spine, shoulders that are rolled back and down, a head that is held fully upright, and toes that are turned neither outward nor inward.
We can improve these things with exercise, particularly with things like Yoga and Pilates and by just being more aware, by cueing ourselves a bit more each day and just by relaxing.
While a collapsed posture is mistaken for relaxation it is actually just the opposite. A collapsed posture makes it harder to breathe and in fact creates tensions in the body, shortening all important muscle groups and causing pain and joint damage that can become permanent.
To cue yourself start little by little. Place your head directly on top of your spine. Think about a line pulling through the top of your skull. Don’t force it. Just relax into it. That’s where your head’s supposed to be so that you can breathe and look straight out at the world. Now roll your shoulders down and back. Again, don’t force anything. Let it happen. As unnatural as it might feel at first it is actually the most natural and relaxed position for your shoulders.
Next, whether your sitting or standing, roll you pelvis slightly forward. When it sags back you’re going to tend to fall forward. Your spine should sit naturally on top of that position. You should find that, barring any muscular or joint deformity your arms, hands and the rest of your upper body will fall naturally into place.
Lastly, whether you’re seated or standing, line your toes up with your heels with your feet fully on the ground. Your knees, ankles and lower joints should fall naturally into place. Start doing this once a day. Then twice. Then a bit more as you go.
If you already practice Yoga or Pilates you can still benefit from cueing your posture as your day goes on, by becoming aware when and how your posture tends to collapse. The more you become aware of this the less that it will happen.
Not only will you feel healthier, you’ll feel more open and free and you’ll be surprised at how people treat you differently. Be careful not to become rigid. Good posture is relaxed and natural. That’s it. That’s all. Try it. You’ll be amazed at how different to world looks when you have good posture.
~ Jules Delorme is a Personal
Trainer & MMA Coach,