[Updated on 1 June 2020] We’ve all had someone dear in our life warn us about slouching at some point in our lives. Whether it was your mum or grandmother, they were only trying to help. Bless their sweethearts. In the modern, tech advanced age, getting a perfect natural posture is easier said than done. More and more people are obsessed with their cellphones, and our daily routine involves hours and hours of sitting down all day, which is affecting everyone’s Posture. In this article, we have explained how you can get in a good posture in 4 weeks.
Poor Posture isn’t just about having a rounded shoulder or forward jutting chins; your Posture affects every bit of your body. Did you know that your Posture can have an overall effect on both your physical and mental health? According to recent studies by chiropractors and health professionals, individuals who have a habit of slumping as they sit, walk or stand often experience health problems from negligible to severe. It’s quite interesting to find out that a majority of the health complications experienced by most individuals, such as back stiffness, headaches, and infections, are solely attributed to the position of the spinal column.
What is Good Posture?
Posture is the alignment of the body and positioning of all its parts to keep balance with the gravitational force of the earth. Maintaining a good posture involves training your body to walk, stand, lie, and sit in positions that will evert the least amount of strain on the supporting muscles during weight-bearing activities. Having a good posture means training your body to move, placing minimal strain on it. Having a good posture improves an individual’s physiological functioning of the body while also improving their appearance.
Therefore, to maintain a good body posture, individuals need to ensure that they have adequate muscle flexibility, strength, and normal joint motion in the spine as well as other parts of the body. Also, individuals need to take note of their postural habits both at work and at home and work on improving them, where necessary
The Anatomy of Good Posture
Having a naturally perfect posture means to keep the three curves of your spine in balanced alignment. In case you have a misalignment of the vertebrae or spinal subluxations, it could cause postural abnormalities.
Having strong and flexible muscles are essential when it comes to achieving great Posture. If your hips, legs, and abdominal muscles are weak, they won’t be able to support the natural curves of your back.
Knee, ankle, and hip joints work to balance your back’s natural curves when you are in motion. This makes it possible to maintain a good posture, regardless of your position.
Benefits of Maintaining a good posture
- Having a good posture helps keep your joints and bones in correct alignment so that your body muscles are used properly and efficiently.
- Good Posture also helps in decreasing the abnormal wear of your joint surfaces that often lead to cases of arthritis.
- Perfect Posture also works to reduce the amount of stress exerted on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
- It helps prevent your spine from getting fixed on an abnormal position such as scoliosis or abnormal lateral curvature.
- Maintaining a good posture prevents fatigue since muscles are being used more efficiently, allowing your body to use very little energy.
- Having a perfect natural posture also optimizes your circulation and breathing.
- Good Posture enhances your appearance.
How do I know I have a good Posture?
Good natural Posture helps prevent excess strain on your muscles, joints, and spine alleviating pain and reducing the likelihood of getting an injury. As a bonus, having good natural Posture can boost your mood and productivity as well, helping you use your muscles more efficiently. Enhancing your Posture takes a lot of effort; however, the feel-good benefits are worthwhile.
So, what does a good posture look like?
Here’s a simple posture test to help you find out:
- Stand straight against a wall in such a way that your shoulder blade, the back of your head, and your glutes are in contact with your wall. Ensure your heels are about two to four inches away from the wall.
- Reach out to your back and slide your hand behind the curve in your lower back. Make sure your palm is flat against the wall.
- In case there is too much space behind your lower back, draw your belly button towards your spine. This will flatten the curve that is in your back, gently bringing your lower back close to the wall.
- If there is too little space behind your lower back, you will have to arch your back just enough to help your hand slide behind you.
Now walk away from the wall while holding a proper posture. Then, get back to the wall to check if you have the correct Posture. More common than not, the ideal Posture is often the exception than the rule. Having poor Posture affects an individual’s from their head to toe, creating a number of problems:
Back and neck pain: experiencing pain and tightness in your neck or back can be due to an injury or other health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, and herniated disc. But poor Posture is often a common culprit. While not life-threatening, neck and back pain can get to chronic levels affecting an individual’s quality of life.
Headache: Individuals with poor Posture can strain the muscles located at their neck, back of the head, and jaw. This exerts pressure on the nearby nerves that can trigger muscle spasm or tension-type headaches.
Shoulder pain: The rotator cuffs are a group of tendons and muscles that connect your upper arm and your shoulder. Muscle imbalance, tightness, and weakness are normally associated with poor Posture, which can cause the tendons to become pinched. Over time this will lead to a tear in the rotator cuff tissue. This is a serious injury that often leads to significant pain and weakness, limiting an individual’s ability to run their normal daily activities.
Knee, hip, and foot pain: Muscles tightness, weakness, lack of flexibility, tightness, and poor alignment of the hips, feet, and knees will prevent your patella (kneecap) from sliding smoothly over the femur. The friction due to this condition causes pain and irritation in the front knee, a condition known as patellofemoral pain. Having poor ankle and foot alignment will also contribute to plantar fasciitis, which is a condition where the thick band tissue connecting your heel to the ball of your foot becomes inflamed, causing pain on the heel.
Fatigue and Breathing Problems
Having a poor posture restricts the rib cage compressing the diaphragm. This, in result, reduces the lung capacity, and you are likely to experience shallow, labored breathing, lack of energy, and fatigue, affecting your productivity.
Enhancing your Posture will help prevent or reverse many of these conditions. Patients will experience a significant improvement in their quality of life by standing a little taller.
Good Posture in 4 Weeks
Getting that perfect natural Posture back isn’t a simple task. For success, you’ll need dedication, awareness, and consistency. Over the next four weeks the following movements will help you:
- Increase your body awareness
- Realign your joints
- Loosen up your muscles
- Strengthen your core
If possible, set up a reminder on your phone or use a calendar to remind you of what you need to do daily. Most of these exercises will take between eight to 20 minutes a day.
Week One: Strengthen Your Core
The easiest way to a good posture is a strong core. A strong core includes your abdominal muscles, the rectus, muscles that make up the six-pack, as well as the deeper transverse abdominals that are found right underneath them. Strengthening your core will not only keep your back in great health, resistant to injuries and aches, but it will also hold your body upright naturally, improving your overall balance, allowing you to be able to move your body with efficiency and great control as well.
Having weak core muscles will force other muscle groups to compensate for it, which leads to loss of motion, aches, pains, and general weakness. Regularly training your core will help you prevent and alleviate core lower back pain.
The following are exercises you can use to strengthen your core for week one:
Perform a 5-minute Child’s Pose, at night and in the morning. This exercise helps stretch and lengthen your spine.
Performing the Child’s Pose Exercise
- Begin the exercise with your hands and knees. Ensure your knees are shoulder-width apart, and your big toes are touching each other.
- Crawl to the front on your hands, extending your arms outwards to the front of your mat. Slowly begin to drop your hips back, resting on your heels.
- Rest your forehead on the mat. Take five to ten deep breaths.
Standing Forward Fold
Begin this stretch with two minutes of Child’s Pose exercise followed by 30-second intervals of the Standing Forward Fold exercise for up to 4 minutes. It’s important to note that this pose will deeply stretch the hamstrings, opening your hips and also has the capability of releasing any tension in your shoulder and neck.
How to Perform the Standing Forward Fold
- Begin this pose with your feet hip-distance apart and then slowly bend at your knees to help support your body. Now, exhale while bending forward at the hips, lengthening the front of your torso. Now bend your elbows and hold on to each of your elbows with the opposite hand. Let the crown of your head hang down. Press your heels into the floor, lifting your sit bones toward the ceiling.
- Now, pull your shoulders away from your ears and drop your neck and head. Lengthen your legs until you are able to feel a stretch in the hamstring muscles. Make sure you are working towards engaging your quadriceps to help your hamstring muscle release.
- Now, release deeper into the pose with each exhalation. Make sure your head is hung as you will feel the tension roll out of your neck and shoulders.
Do this stretch sequence in the morning and at night. To perform this exercise, hold an active Child’s Pose for about one minute, with the Standing Forward Fold for about two minutes. Now, do the Cat-Cow for about five minutes. This sequential movement will help you increase your spinal awareness.
How to Perform the Cat-Cow
- Begin the stretch on all fours. Make sure that your wrists are stacked under your elbows, which are stacked under the shoulders. Ensure your fingers are spread against the ground for increased stability, keeping your neck neutral.
- Start the Cat phase as you exhale, tucking your tailbone down using your abdominal muscles to push your spine towards the ceiling. This makes a sort of Halloween cat stance. Now, lengthen your back, allowing your head to reach your chest so that your ears come down by your biceps.
- As you breathe out, swoop and scoop your pelvis into a cow position. Do this by dropping your belly to the floor. Lift up your chest and chin and gaze up towards the ceiling. Your shoulders need to be away from your ears.
Start by holding the active Child’s Pose for one minute, do the Standing Forward Fold for two minutes, and finally, the Cat-Cow stretch for two minutes. Then add two minutes for the chest stretch exercise. The Chest Stretch is the inverse of how you normally sit at work, making it efficient in reversing poor alignment preventing back pain. This exercise is done in the morning and at night.
How to perform the Chest Stretch
- Start on your knees, sitting on your heels. In case you experience joint pain, sit on your butt with your legs stretched out in front.
- Now, reach out your arms behind you interlacing your fingers below your lower back. In case your arms do not reach, you can use a PVC pipe or small towel to make up for the distance.
- Keep your head in a neutral position and your eyes facing straight ahead. When you are ready, lift your chest so that your entire trunk is elongated towards your ceiling and reach out your hands towards your back. Hold this pose for about five breaths. Now relax and repeat the exercise.
Week Two: Shoulders
While having a rounded shoulder might look normal, they are actually a postural abnormality. They are usually caused by spending hours hunched over a computer desk, bending down while performing manual duties, watching television, or driving. Being in this forward-leaning position, your chest, shoulder, and hip muscles can start to tighten or shorten. The result is weak muscles in your upper and middle back.
Therefore, by working on your weak upper back muscles, and stretching out the muscles in your shoulders, hips, and lats, your Posture will begin to improve naturally. As your upper back becomes stronger, your chest is much more flexible, and your shoulders will straighten.
Rows with Resistance Band
Tools are essential to your journey towards great Posture, and the Resistance Band comes pretty handy in week two. The resistance band is a bit more user friendly for most people compared to weights. It’s important to choose your band, keeping in mind, the thicker, the more intense the workout.
How to Perform Resistance Band Rows
- Start at a seated position on the floor with your legs stretched out in front of you. While holding the handles, place the center of the band around your feet and wrap each end inside and around each foot one more time so that you are making a loop on each foot.
- Sit tall, ensuring your abs are tight and hold the handles in front of you with your elbows bent next to your side. Pull the resistance band handles back until they are next to your side, and your elbows are right behind you. Now, slowly release.
Standing Chest Stretches
Begin with your feet hip-width apart. Make sure your toes are pointing in front, and your arms are by your sides. Now, begin to stiffen your abdominal muscles so that your spine is stabilized. Pull your shoulders down, and back to retract and depress the scapular. Make sure you do not arch your lower back.
Exhale, as you slightly begin to lift your chest up and out while externally rotating your shoulders, turning them out and drawing them back together. Hold this position for about 15 to 30 seconds before performing two to four reps.
The Torso Stretch
- Start standing tall with your back straight, abs engaged, your feet hip-distance apart, and your head lifted.
- Now clasp your hands together and slowly raise them above your head towards the ceiling. Aim to reach as high as you can while inhaling deeply and hold for about 20 to 30 seconds. Now bring your hands down slowly as you let out your breath. Repeat this stretch two times.
- During this exercise, make sure you are relaxed and be mindful of your breathing pattern. Ensure your shoulders are relaxed away from your ears and bend your elbows for the comfort that is needed.
Standing Quad stretches
The Standing Quad stretch is a very effective exercise when it comes to improving an individual’s flexibility, for the large muscle located at the front of the thigh. This exercise is normally used as part of an after-exercise routine or warm-up, especially for energy drawing activities such as running or cycling. This exercise is great for your Posture since it helps prevent injuries of the quadriceps muscles caused by flexibility imbalance between the hamstrings and quadriceps.
How to Perform the Standing Quad stretches
- Stand on one leg, and in case you need support, hold onto something like a chair or a wall. Now bend your right knee, bringing your heel towards your buttock. Reach out for your ankle with your opposite left hand.
- Stand up straight and pull in your abdominal muscles. Now, try to keep your knees next to each other. Relax your shoulders while holding your leg in a bent position. You will begin to feel a slight pull along the front of your hip and thigh.
- Finally, breathe deeply and hold your stretch for about 20 to 30 seconds, release and repeat this on the left side leg. Only, this time hold your ankle with your right hand. Stretch each leg for about one to five times in a stretching session.
Week Three: Hips
When looking side-on, in the mirror, your hips need to be straight, and in a level position, A lot of people have their hips in a sort of tilt stance, that may feel natural, but, in fact, a postural abnormality known as pelvic tilt.
Lordosis, also known as the swayback, is the opposite of this problem and is typically caused by a weakness in the hamstrings, abs, glutes, along with the tightness in the hip flexors and thighs. In case you are not sure whether your pelvis is tilted or not, check your beltline.
Wearing your typical pants and a belt, your belt needs to be in perfect level or pretty close, all the way around your waist. In case your beltline looks like it’s higher on your back and is lower in the front, then you need to work on your abs, glutes, and hamstrings.
Stability Ball Leg Curls
This exercise will work your hips, butt, core, and thighs. I will not only give your hamstrings a good workout but also work your core significantly improving your Posture.
How to Perform Stability Ball Leg Curls
Performing this exercise is pretty easy.
- Lie down on your mat with your arms palm down on the ground. Now rest your feet on the stability ball.
- Inhale as you bend your knees in such a way that your calves roll with the ball towards your body. Exhale, as you roll the ball away from your body.
- Ensure that your back and hips are straight throughout the workout.
Single-Leg Hamstring Flexing with a Ball
- Start this exercise lying on your back with a swiss ball under your left or right heel. It’s important that your opposite foot is off the side of the swiss ball and off the ground at approximately the same height as the foot on the swiss ball. Now place your arms straight out to your side to offer support.
- Now, lift up your leg to the point you create a straight line with your body. Don’t engage your arms at any point. Take the leg on the ball, bringing it towards you using your heels.
- Make sure your opposite leg remains straight, and that it is a little higher than the ball. Now, reverse the movement of your lower hips back to the ground. Aim for two sets with about 10 to 12 reps.
Kneeling Quad and Hip Stretch
This exercise is quite helpful since your quadriceps muscles are engaged daily for activities and more during sporting activities. Both your quadriceps and hip flexors help better perform both the hip stretches and quad stretches.
The Kneeling quad stretch works to lengthen the entire front of the tight, stretching the quad from the hip to the knee.
How to Perform the Kneeling Quad Stretch
- Start in a runner’s lunge with your right foot forward. Now, slowly lower your left knee towards the floor.
- Make sure you take a few moments to find your balance, and once you are stabilized, grab the left foot with your left hand.
- Hold this position for 30 seconds and then switch sides.
Week Four: The Head
Picture this, when was the last time you were driving, and your head was in contact with your headrest? More often than not, people slouch forward, trying to see the traffic signs and lights. When it comes to having good natural Posture, most individuals will spend an awful amount of time on your shoulders and back.
In fact, the same way you carry your neck and head are as important. When looking side on the mirror, your eyes need to be directly above your shoulders. But unfortunately, most people’s heads sit slightly above their shoulders.
The best way to fix this problem is through exercise. By retracting the weaker and tight parts of your neck, your head will naturally begin to center itself over your shoulders. The following are exercises for your head:
Neck retraction exercise
Neck retraction exercise is beneficial, especially if included as part of your home exercise program for people with spinal arthritis. It’s also beneficial in case your need to strengthen your neck muscles. This exercise will also help you loosen and stretch out the muscles located at the back of your neck.
How to Perform Neck Retraction Exercise
- In a neutral position, pull in your chin straight backwards as if attempting to make a double chin. Do not force this movement, but aim for about 70 to 80% full range of motion as you head back into retraction.
- Ensure your chin is in a neutral or horizontal position. Do not tilt your head back into extension or down excessively. Now hold the neck retraction or the chin tuck position for about two to three seconds and then release your neck back towards the neutral position.
- If you find this movement difficult as you begin, use your thumb or fingers instead. Gently push your chin or neck backwards so that you are comfortable with the movement. Eventually, you will still need to use your own muscles to perform this movement, and it will help strengthen your deep neck flexors.
Next time you are cruising down the road, take this opportunity to perform posture exercise.
How to Perform Headrest Exercise
- In a seated position, try to pull your chin in and press your head back into the headrest for a maximum of four to eight seconds at a time.
- You can also perform this exercise if you have a high back office chair that you use on a regular basis. Like your car headrest, pull in your chin and press your head into your office chair headrest for about four to eight seconds.
There you have it, a complete guide to restoring your Posture in four weeks. It’s important to note that you will not witness any changes overnight. However, if you can include these exercises in your daily routine, drop the bad habits, you will have a posture that will boost your confidence, appearance, and overall health.abcGoodPosture 1
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