Do you want to look more attractive than you currently do? Improve your posture. We all look more attractive the healthier our posture. And, improving your posture is easy and not very expensive.
Next time you are in a public setting take careful notice of those around you and who walk by you and study their posture. People with good (healthy) posture tend to move gracefully and exude an air of confidence that is missing in those with poor posture.
You may find someone who is average looking but who has good posture to be more attractive than someone better looking but with a slouching and rounded shoulder posture. People with good posture appear to have more energy, more life than those who do not.
Posture is a form of body language. People with good posture seem to enjoy the day, whereas those with poor posture seem to trying to survive the day. And, if you are short in stature you can make yourself look taller by maintaining good posture.
What is Good Posture?
The easiest way I have found to describe good posture to others is to tell them to sit, stand, and walk as tall as possible. When you do this one of the first things you will notice is that you accentuate the curve (lordosis) in you lower back.
Secondly, you will notice that you throw your shoulders back which automatically brings out the chest and positions the head more centrally over the shoulders rather than in front of them that has become commonplace in our sedentary society. Thirdly, you notice that you elongate your neck. Imagine the crown of your head is attached to a wire that is pulling your head directly upward.
Getting to that position of better posture is relatively easy but being able to maintain it 24 hours a day and improving your posture to the point that it looks and feels natural is where the challenge is. And, that is going to take some work.
Why We Have Poor Posture
Before you attempt to improve your posture it helps to understand the reasons for poor posture. The biggest contributing factor to poor posture is sitting. To some degree we cannot get away from sitting but we can learn to sit healthier. We have discussed the difficulty and the limits of exercise in this article in overcoming the harm from sitting.
So what happens when we sit? Our hip flexor muscles get tight and our abdominal muscles weaken. You probably have heard of core muscles, core stability, and core exercises. Our core muscles include our abdominal muscles, our gluteal muscles and our thigh muscles. They all tend to become deactivated when we sit.
How to Sit Properly
Most of us sit improperly. You probably did not know you could sit wrong. Did anyone ever teach you how to sit? Probably not. Most of sit on the meat of our gluteal muscles. We should sit on the sit bones of the pelvis bones known as the ischial tuberosities. To accomplish that you have to sit somewhat with your butt out or in the air. When you sit on the ischial tuberosities you will naturally find that you maintain the lordosis or curve in your lower back better. You want that curve to be there.
Even if you sit on the ischial tuberosities you will probably find in a short period that you have gravitated to sitting more on the muscles and have lost your lordosis. That is probably a good indication that you have sat long enough and that it is time to get up and walk around.
Sitting on the ischial tuberosities is easier given the design of most chairs if you sit closer to the front edge of the chair. Unless a chair has a good lumbar support if you sit way back in the seat of the chair you most likely will sit more on the meat of the gluteal muscles and unable to fully maintain your lumbar lordosis.
Once you lose the lumbar lordosis when sitting you are sunk. It sets off a chain reaction. When you lose the lumbar lordosis your head will fall forward straining the neck muscles and your shoulders will begin to round towards the front. Over time this sets up imbalances in the neck and shoulder muscles.
To prevent losing the lumbar lordosis it helps to adjust your work station and computer screen and keyboard so that your elbows are comfortably flexed and so do not have to reach forward to get to your keyboard. Also keep your monitor screen at eye level and avoid having to rotate or twist you neck to see your monitor.
How to Improve Your Posture
There are several steps to take to improve your posture and most of them do not cost any money.
- Avoid sitting as much as possible.
- Maintain flexibility in the hip flexors (stretch your iliopsoas muscles).
- Develop your abdominal and gluteal muscles.
- Perform flexibility exercises of the cervical spine.
- Develop more strength in the scapular (shoulder blade) muscles to pull shoulder back.
- Stretch your chest muscles (the pectorals) making it easier for the shoulder-blade muscles to pull shoulders back.
You can work on all these muscle groups individually. Or you may find a more organized activity like yoga and Pilates to be great alternatives enabling you to accomplish the same.
Improve your posture, improve your health, improve your appearance.
Article updated on 12/26/22. Originally published 10/13/18