Growing up I always remember being told to stand up straight and stop slouching, but it never seemed to make any real difference. All I would do is crank my shoulders back and then find myself in the same bad position two minutes later. Knowing how to hold yourself correctly is incredibly important so that you strengthen the right muscles. And once you’ve learnt this, it’s a case of repeating it until the posture becomes a learned behaviour.
When people try to pull themselves into good posture they usually go from a rounded spinal position (flexion) to the complete opposite which is arching through the lower back (extension) when really we need to be in a neutral position with our vertebra stacked.
Here is an example I have taken from Dr. Kelly Starrett’s book Becoming a Supple Leopard:
Good posture is about getting your body in a good position with a neutral spine and a stable core.
Here are 5 steps to get your spine, hips and shoulders in the right position and get the correct muscles to switch on to support your posture.
Step 1. Screw Feet into the Ground
1. Place your feet under your hips with toes pointing forwards or slightly turned out.
2. Screw drive your feet down and out into the ground whilst externally rotating your hips. This does not want to be for maximal force but just slight pressure that you can maintain.
Cue. Imagine you are standing on a newspaper and trying to rip it apart with your feet.
Note: you are not actually turning your feet out, they should remain in position whilst you create that outwards force (torque).
Avoid standing with toes pointing too far out as you will not able to screw drive your feet and create as much tension (torque).
Step 2. Neutral Pelvis
- Squeeze your glutes (your bum) and your pelvis will automatically pull into a good position.
- Maintain position by keeping slight tension in the glutes along with screw driving your feet.
Below is a video of me getting into a neutral pelvis position.
Step 3. Align Your Ribs Over Your Pelvis
- Take a deep breath through your diaphragm by breathing into your belly.
- Now exhale through pursed lips as though you are blowing up a balloon while tightening your abs; this will draw your ribs down and in until your rib cage is facing down towards your pelvis, and not flaring out. This will help to align your spine and tighten the muscles around your midsection.
Below I demonstrate how this should look.
Step 4. Set Your Head and Shoulder Position
- Pull your head back and pull your chin in.
Cue. Imagine you are trying to touch the wall behind you with the back of your head.
2. Pull your shoulders back and down
Cue. Imagine as though you are trying to pull your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
Methodically work your way through these steps and work from the ground up to correct your posture. Once you learn all the steps you will be able to correct your entire posture by simultaneously adjusting all steps within a second.
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