Yes, it is possible to change your posture for the better, but no, it isn't going to happen over night. A workout to improve posture doesn't have to be complicated, but it really is important. Think about all the messages your body language sends to the world — it tells people a lot about you. Besides the impact it has on the way you communicate with others, proper alignment can keep you healthy from head to toe, and it's never too early to start prioritizing that. Simply put in the work, and a graceful stature can be yours sooner than you might think.
It's not just that great posture leads to great health, it can help keep you out of a bad mood, and feel more engaged in life. I don't know about you, but those two are things I remind myself I need to achieve on a semi-regular basis, and if I can tick those boxes just by drawing my ab muscles in and pulling my shoulders back, then I'm all for it.
Follow along as I discuss a few of the health benefits of good posture, and give you a simple workout to do in a few minutes a day that will help you maximize your "sit-up-straight" effort. If you need more incentive, imagine Audrey Hepburn holding a glass of champs, now imagine Golem doing the same. I think your decision has been made.
What does good posture look like?
First, let's talk about what "good posture" actually entails. It means aligning ears over shoulders, shoulders over hips, and hips over knees and ankles. In order for your body's vital organs to function properly, this alignment is important to be achieved. If it's not, you risk poor digestion, an aching back and more: Time has reported that slouching can even contribute to depression. Incredible, right?
It's important to remember that posture isn't a "sometimes" concern, it's something you live with all the time. The same way "diet" doesn't refer to a restrictive food regiment, but all the things you eat throughout the day, "posture" doesn't mean standing up straight, it refers to the physical position you're in at any given time. This means, whether you think about it or not, you're taking on a posture, and the only choice you have is whether that posture is contributing to your health problems or contributing to your wellness.
Your five-minute workout to improve posture
There are a few dead giveaways that your posture isn't at its potential, and, not coincidentally, they are contributors to many painful alignment issues the majority of people deal with regularly.
Correct these issues with a few simple exercises, performed regularly for best results.
Minute 0-1: Planks
Strengthen your core to ensure your belly button is always drawn into your spine when you sit or stand — a critical component of excellent posture.
Begin the plank by assuming the "up" position of a push-up, on hands and toes with a straight body. Pull your belly button into your spine, relax your jaw and neck as much as possible, and remain in this position for 30 seconds. Once that becomes easy, increase it to 45 seconds, then a minute, etc.
Minute 1-3: Chin tucks
The forward head is a painful, chronic condition. Correct this by performing chin tucks.
With your belly button drawn into your spine, sitting or standing, pull your head back and "tuck" your chin. Hold in place for 30 seconds, rest for a few seconds, and repeat until you hit minute three. The idea is to reverse all of the craning you've been doing throughout the day, so perform this exercise as frequently as you possibly can. In the line for your morning coffee, while you wait in traffic, as you sit at your desk — all the time.
Minute 3-4: Back extensions
Also known as the "Superman," back extensions are a simple way to strengthen the muscles that surround your spine, thus helping you to achieve pulled back shoulders.
Lie face down with your arms extended above your head. Keeping your abs engaged, raise your upper body and feet off the floor. Hold that position for 15 seconds, rest, and repeat until the time is up. Keep staring at the floor to maintain a neutral neck position, and remember that this will get easier the stronger you become.
Minute 4-5: Shoulder rolls
This one will help you get your shoulders moving in the right direction. You'll want to engage the muscles of your upper back (mainly your rhomboids) to draw your shoulders back while you're sitting, standing, or doing absolutely anything, ever.
Perform the shoulder roll by raising your shoulders and shoulder blades to your ears as you inhale. On the exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together. Rest for a few seconds, repeat until you hit minute five.
Improving your posture isn't the hard part, it's the awareness required to constantly make incremental adjustments to your posture that most people neglect. Prioritize moving over being sedentary. Get up and walk around more often, but do so keeping in mind that your abs should be engaged, your head pushed back and not forward (checking your phone less frequently might help with this,) and your shoulders drawn together by your rhomboids. The body was not meant to sit in front of a computer for 10 hours a day, so take frequent walk breaks if you must. It will clear your head and help you function better throughout the day. Win-win.
For more ideas, check out Bustle on YouTube.
Images: Getty Images (2); Giphy.com (2)