It is critically important to start any exercise with good posture, as we want to build a solid base to reach our fitness goals. All exercise is simply movement – and moving is something we do all day long.
The more aware we are of our posture as we move throughout the day, the more we benefit as we exercise. Correct posture maximizes the effectiveness of each routine and, with correct posture, the starting point of each routine becomes a baseline from which to measure improvement. It may be more gratifying to immediately add resistance to a workout, but without a good postural base existing imbalances can become more ingrained and can increase the likelihood of injury.
Puppet on a String
Begin by imagining that you are a puppet on a string that is pulling from the top of your head. You are just hanging and elongating from that string.
Hang up Your Abdominals
Now, visualize your abdominals, from the level of your sternum to between your hipbones. Think of hanging them up as if they are a suit or dress you just picked up from the cleaners (you certainly would not just throw them down!). By keeping the wrinkles out of your abdominals, they immediately will feel engaged.
Now that you are thinking about the “puppet on a string” and are “hanging up” your abdominals, check to make sure that you’re lifting your chest.
Building and maintaining posture is a negotiation: don’t “over think” one area, as that can create another imbalance. The end goal is to implement simultaneously all of the tips to better posture. Be patient, it will come together at the end!
Notice how your shoulders automatically shift back when you lift and lengthen your abdominals and lift your chest. We tend to slouch during the day, which makes the area between our shoulder blades weak. When sitting in front of a computer the chin tends to stick out. These poor postural habits create wear and tear over the years, resulting in pain and injuries.
Bringing good posture into our everyday activities builds stability, prevents injuries and becomes part of our exercise time.
Head on Straight
Once you get this far, rethink the “Puppet on a String”. By this point you might be feeling a little overwhelmed trying to remember it all. This is common! Just keep plugging and you will see how it all makes sense.
Right now, when in doubt, always go back to thinking “Puppet on a String”, because it creates length. We do tend to “over think” this at the beginning. Once you apply these postural elements to your daily activities, you will see and feel the difference. Let’s continue on to the…dime!
Everyone remembers this element. Pretend that you are slightly pinching a dime between your butt cheeks! Be careful not to pinch too hard because, other areas will then compensate (such as shoulders dropping and hips rotating out too much). The posture process requires negotiating among the strong and weak parts of our bodies. We want to teach our bodies to connect or to engage as a whole.
Check whether you lock your knees all day. If you do lock them, notice how your spine tilts forward, how your abdominals don’t engage, how your feet clench against the ground. Your hamstrings and buttocks don’t engage either.
It’s surprising, but something as simple as locking the knees makes a really big difference. It is challenging to break this habit – but it’s easy to realize the benefits. Most individuals lock their knees all the time! Watch!
Pretend that you are putting on some tight jeans and you have to pull your abdominals in to zip up the zipper. When we engage our abdominals this way it helps to bring the rest of our body into alignment.
Most of us over engage our feet to compensate for weakness in other areas (such as hamstrings, buttocks, inner thighs, abdominals and shoulder blades). Check your feet to see if they are relaxed. I bet they aren’t!
Congratulations on finishing the section on Basic Posture. Remember, habits develop over years: we will not change them in a day or a week. Consistency (that is, consistent focus) is the key to success. Practice the individual posture elements of this module as you go about your day. By doing so you will “Make Your Life a Workout!”