Strengthen your core–and hold your head high.
Don’t be a slouch. You there, sitting at your computer with your shoulders slumped, one hand on the mouse, your head jutting forward to better see your screen. Sit up straight.
Posture isn’t just about how you look—though ever walk by a window and catch your slumped reflection? Not hot. Your stature is who you are. Your body is you, and it’s your advertisement for you, the person you present to the world. Posture is one element in your body’s whole grand scheme.
Why the frowny shoulders? Do you feel bad? Because that’s how it looks. Like you’re tired, or sad, or have a stomachache.
Or worse…that you don’t feel entitled to stand tall. If it’s not an issue of depression, and it’s not laziness, it could be a matter of confidence. When you stand tall, you look like more of an effectual person, someone who should be listened to. Someone who believes that he or she matters. In sharp contrast, the hunchback look turns you into more of a wallflower. It makes you look like you question your very presence in the room. Go ahead and wring your hands while you’re at it.
Back to laziness. It takes strength to hold your back straight and shoulders back. It takes remembering to sit up when you find yourself folding inward. It takes strong abdominal muscles to support the work the lower back is doing holding you up.
So now you may see how it’s all connected. If you care about yourself and feel like a worthy member of society, you care how you look. If you care how you look, you take care of your body. If you take care of your body, you strengthen the core as needed so you can sit the heck up straight in your chair.
Here are a few exercises you can do to help yourself stand up straighter:
- Strengthen and stretch your pecs. Your chest muscles help support the back, so do some pushups. Then stand in a doorway and press your forearms in a goalpost position into the door frame. Let your chest jut out a bit, but hold your abs tight.
- Do some shoulder shrugs. Hold some medium-heavy weights and shrug your shoulders to your ears, like an exaggerated, “I don’t know” gesture. Hold the shoulders up for a second or two, then release gently. Repeat 10 times.
- Do a spine stretch. Sitting on the floor with your legs hip-width apart and arms out straight in front of you, imagine you are rolling one vertebra at a time toward the mat, aiming to touch the top of your head, not your forehead, to the floor. Then inhale deeply as you stack your vertebrae back up to a tall seated position. This is a Pilates move—ask me or someone trained in Pilates to help you if you’ve never done it before.
These are just a few exercises to get you started, but there are many others. Your core is literally the center of your being and what carries your posture, so it must not be neglected. Care enough about your body, your self, to hold your head high!