I’ve heard for years that my posture gives my ballerina training away, you can tell instantly from the poise (and possibly the turned out feet) that you’re standing behind a dancer. Years of exercises focussed around a straight spine and strong core made me very aware of my correct posture. Once I stopped dancing full time, I started to understand how many of us have posture related tightness, and how this can effect daily life. If you have terrible neck pain it’s not just going to mean you avoid upper body workouts and complain about a headache 24/7, but it’ll effect your concentration and focus too.
Correct posture is something I am proud to say is at the heart of my Ballet Blast method. I want my clients and members to reach their goals, but even better, I want them to master their posture. Why? Because if you have good posture EVERY workout is going to be more effective and therefore you’ll have less chance of injury, and results come quicker.
If you have internally rotated shoulders with a hunched back and try to lift a weight (or your own body weight) you’ll be tightening your shoulders and straining your neck. With correct shoulder alignment and a straight spine you’ll be stabilising through the core, and strengthening the correct muscles. Another example is a squat, so often clients feel it in their hip flexers through rounding the lower back. If you have good postural awareness and know where your body is throughout the movement and it becomes a completely different exercise.
The two most common posture types I see are Kyphosis and Hyperlordosis. Kyphosis (hunch-back posture) traits are shoulders forward, your head down and your upper back curved. Hyperlordosis (sway-back posture) is the opposite, with an exaggerated curve in your lower back. I’ll expand on posture types more specifically in another blog post.
My 3 Top Tips for Better Posture:
Indulge me, and do one tiny piece of homework. Tomorrow, make a conscious decision to note down every time and duration you’re looking below eye level. This might be on your laptop answering emails or phone scrolling the gram. Whatever it is note it down, and how long you stay in that position for.
One of the reasons most of us have back/neck pain, hunched shoulders and start building bad postural habits is technology! But there are a few really easy things you can do that will make a humongous difference.
- buy a laptop stand, a display monitor OR be a rockstar and invest in a standing desk or Swiss Ball. Whichever option you chose it’s important to make sure you’re looking at your eye level. On top of being excellent for your posture I also find looking straight that I can focus for far longer.
- when it comes to your mobile, this one requires a little confidence. Imagine you’re snap chatting your mate, you’d hold your phone to frame your face (unless you’re giving them some double chin action). When you text, scroll or story, hold your phone proud. If you find it a little embarrassing, and to potentially stop the person sitting opposite you thinking they’re getting snapped you can purchase a wallet style phone case, and hold the flap over the camera.
A few other non-tech lifestyle habits to implement:
- set your timer for every hour and go for a short walk around the office or your apartment. Spend 60 seconds re-setting your posture. It doesn’t seem like much but this will keep your energy and perfect posture going for far longer.
- pay attention to the way you sit, try and sit without crossing your legs. The more “squared off” you are to your computer the better.
- a backpack is ALWAYS better than a bag, but don’t buy one without testing first, you need to make sure you can tighten the straps to suit your body.
As a teen ballerina I stood out amongst many of my peers, I had boobs…which wasn’t the most convenient of features when jumping around the studio! I became incredibly insecure about my body and how this came out physically was by rounding my shoulders and collapsing my chest; This is something that is typical of low confidence, I call it ‘apologetic’ posture.
This slowly overtime just becomes a bad habit, and it all starts with low self esteem. If this sounds like you, then the best thing you can do is to fake it till you make it, and be proud. Retract your shoulder blades, and press your chest out. It will feel very unnatural to begin with, but it doesn’t take long to make this strong, confident posture a habit.
#3: Stretching & Strengthening
Sometimes bad posture doesn’t develop from lifestyle habits but from tightnesses and weakness pulling your body into a different position. A consistent stretching routine and structured workout program is really important for correcting posture. Whilst there are many areas to stretch/strengthen dependant on your posture type it’s important to focus in on just a few to begin with.
For Kyphosis Stretch:
Pectoralis major and minor (chest)
sternocleidomastoid muscle in the neck (back of neck)
For Kyphosis Strengthen:
back of the shoulders and upper back: Trapezius, Latissimus Dorsi and Rhomboids.
For Hyperlordosis Stretch:
Hip Flexors in particular illiopsoas muscle
For Hyperlordosis Strengthen:
Now one last thing, be consistent. Posture is a hard thing to master as it’s in-built, formed by habits that can be hard to break. Be committed to making the change, and you will.