Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in a full-length mirror or store window and seen your body slumped with poor posture?
You might quickly pull your head and shoulders back, pull in your stomach and walk on. In a minute or two, when you've forgotten about what you saw, your body might start to slump again.
If there were a mirror in front of us all day long, reflecting how we stand, walk and sit, good posture might be more on our minds. Having the right posture is important, and not just for looking good. Correct posture promotes better body movement, keeps bones in healthy alignment, takes strain off muscles and joints, keeps abdominal organs functioning well and helps avoid back pain.
With practice, you can improve your posture. These ideas may help:
• Take several short stretch breaks throughout the day, especially if you work at a desk or computer. Stretching keeps muscles flexible for good posture.
• Sitting on a chair's edge, feet flat on floor, place a pillow or soccer-sized ball between your knees. Squeeze gently for a few seconds while lifting your head and pulling your shoulder blades back. Repeat 10 times.
• Stand with your back against a wall, heels about 3 inches from the wall. Put arms down with palms forward and low back close to wall.
o Lift your chest so your shoulders touch the wall.
o Bring head back to wall, chin tucked in.
o Pull up and in with muscles of lower abdomen.
o Hold for 10 seconds while breathing normally. Repeat 3 times.
Luebbers P. "Enhancing Your Flexibility." American College of Sports Medicine Fit Society. http://www.acsm.org. Accessed July 11, 2007.
American Physical Therapy Association. "The Secret of Good Posture: A Physical Therapist's Perspective." http://www.apta.org. Accessed July 9, 2007.
St. Luke's Iowa Health System. "Three Simple Exercises to Improve Posture." http://www.stlukes.org. Accessed July 11, 2007.
American Academy of Family Physicians. "Vitamin B-12." http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/articles/765.html. Accessed June 20, 2007.
© 2007 National Women’s Health Resource Center, Inc. (NWHRC) All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission from the NWHRC. 1-877-986-9472 (toll-free). On the Web at: www.healthywomen.org.