Good posture can make you look and feel younger, taller, thinner, and more self-assured. Bad posture not only detracts from your appearance but may also strain muscles and ligaments and inhibit normal breathing.
ABC’S OF GOOD POSTURE
When standing, make sure that your body is in a straight vertical alignment, from the top of your head, through the center of your body, to your feet. Try to imagine a plumb line extending through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. Examine yourself, in profile, in a full-length mirror.
In this position, your back should curve slightly in three spots: a forward curve at the neck, a backward curve at the upper back, and a forward curve at the lower back. A slumping posture (below right) distorts these natural curves and puts a strain on the lower back.
When viewing yourself from the front, make sure that your shoulders are level with each other. The same applies to your hips. If you can’t align them, you may have a postural problem; consult your doctor.
Check the curves in your spine by pressing your back against a wall, with heels about three Inches away. Place your hand behind your neck and lower back. If It doesn’t fit comfortably, without much excess space, try adjusting your posture.
POSTURE MADE PERFECT
Many people literally forget what good posture feels like.
If this is your problem, try this easy exercise a couple of times each day to remind you.
Stand with your heels a few inches from a wall and about six inches from each other.
Make sure your weight is evenly distributed.
Let arms hang at your sides with palms forward. Your kneecaps should also be fac-
Keep your lower back near the wall as you straighten your upper back. Lift your chest upward and bring your shoulders down and against the wall.
Bring your head to rest against the wall with the chin tucked in slightly.
Concentrate on flattening your lower abdomen by pulling the muscles up and in. Breathe normally as you keep the muscles tight for about 10 seconds. Release and repeat several times.
You should be able to maintain good posture throughout the day, whether standing,
sitting, or moving. To achieve the perfect sitting posture, sit up tall and keep your spine straight against the back of the chair, your head erect, and your chin parallels to your lap.
RELAX AND BREATHE DEEPLY
Here’s a mental exercise that dancers sometimes use. It combines deep breathing with visualization exercises to help relax constricted muscles and improve posture.
Stand at ease and imagine slipping a tiny air pillow between each of the vertebrae in your lower back, from the base of the spine to the rib cage. Concentrate on giving each of them a little more “breathing space.” Focus your attention on each in turn, as if you were opening and extending the distance between your pelvis and rib cage. Keep your shoulders down as you inhale deeply. You should begin to feel lighter and more relaxed as your lungs expand fully and begin to release the oxygen that your body needs to function smoothly. Exhale and repeat.
Flexibility and strength are crucial to good posture and overall fitness. Devote between 5 and 10 minutes daily to the following, exercises or others like them.
The Crunch (for abdominal muscles): To do this sit-up keep your knees bent. Place your arms across your chest, and lift your upper body slightly off the ground, keeping the neck and head in line with the spine.
The Pelvic Tilt (for abdominal muscles): Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Press the lower back against the floor, tighten the abdominal muscles and squeeze the buttocks as you raise your hips off the floor. Hold for three to five counts, lower, then repeat.
The Push-up ( for upper back and shoulders): If the military version, on the toes, is too tough, push up from the knees. Or do the standing version, lean against ta wall and push.
To keep tabs on your sitting posture, place large mirrors on walls near your desk and table
MAKE SOME ADJUSTMENTS
When you’re working at a desk or table, move your chair close enough so that you don’t need to lean over. Your feet should touch the floor comfortably; if they don’t, use a small stool or a phone book to support them ( see You and Your Environment ).
If your kitchen sink is too high to work comfortably while standing, it on a stool. Have groceries loaded into two bags, rather than one, if you intend to carry them any distance: Always try to carry equal weight on either side.
Whenever you carry a single heavy suitcase, briefcase, grocery bag, or other packages, switch the load from side to side frequently.
The best sleeping position is on your side with one or both knees pulled up toward your chest. If you must sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees to relieve muscle stress. If you must sleep on your stomach, put a pillow under your waist.
When driving a car, adjust the seat so that your knees are bent and you aren’t stretching to reach the pedals. Otherwise, you put unnecessary strain on lower-back muscles. Use a pillow if necessary.
Be conscious of your body language. How you hold yourself affects how others see you—and how you feel, too. If you move with purpose, energy, and pride, you will internalize those qualities.
Choose clothes that tell the world you care about yourself. Train your eye to recognize N at works well. Changing your wardrobe periodically will help you look and feel young, but beware of trendy styles that don’t suit your body type.
Be meticulous about hygiene, and get your hair cut and styled regularly.
Pretend that someone is about to take your picture. Relax your shoulders, elongate your neck, straighten your back—and smile. Make that posture a habit.