Do you pay much attention to your posture? Probably not - we tend to go through our day without thinking about whether or not we're standing and sitting properly. But poor posture can lead to discomfort and even long-term health problems. So what can you do to improve your posture? Here are some tips to help …
It's so easy to slump down in your seat without noticing, or stoop when you're standing. But this is bad news for your body, and you'll soon start to feel the results as your muscles get into an uncomfortable position. Try instead to maintain your back straight, and avoid your head dropping too far forward or backward.
Think about how your shoulders are right now. Are they hunched forward or heading towards your ears? You're going to get aching muscles. Consciously drop and relax your shoulders so that they're hanging loosely. Also beware of pulling them too far backward; they should be dropped into a natural position and not clenched up. They should also be level, and not have one higher than the other.
So how can you tell where your posture needs some work? Stand against a wall or door. Your shoulders, the back of your head, and knees should all be in alignment. You can also look sideways into a mirror to check your posture; if you're not sure if you're standing quite straight, use a plumb line.
One of the major problems for women is that they're often touting heavy shoulder bags around, which pull the shoulders out of alignment and cause them to ache. The best bag for posture is a rucksack. But whatever type of bag you carry, check your posture when you're walking, and don't let your shoulders hunch up to keep your bag in place.
Most of us have very sedentary jobs and spend our entire working day sitting at a computer or desk- which is bad news for our posture. One way to counteract this is to get up every 30 minutes and walk around or stretch. This will help your body loosen up and avoid your body getting stiff.
Going to a Pilates or yoga class will also aid good posture. Both will work on strengthening your core - your abdominal and pelvic muscles. You need these muscles to be strong if you want good posture. They're gentle forms of exercise that are suitable for pretty much everyone.
High heels may look great, but they're bad news for your posture. When you're wearing heels, you force your body to stand differently in order to maintain your balance. So higher heels are best saved for occasional use. If you do wear them more often, try to alternate with flatter heels.
It's so important to look after your posture if you don't want back and neck problems. Try to be conscious of how you sit, stand and walk, and avoid slumping. Adopt a good posture, and you'll stay fitter as you get older. What bad fitness and health habits are you prone to?
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