If you’ve ever worked out at Synergy, you’ve probably heard one of our trainers say, “stand up straight,” or “put your shoulders back.” That’s because posture is so important when you’re working out. Proper posture and alignment helps reduce the stress and strain you put on your tendons, joints and ligaments and lowers the chances you’ll get hurt. But, good posture is just as important once you leave the gym – maybe even more so.
Did you know that improving your posture can improve your quality of life? It may sound hokey but it’s true.
Several studies have shown that we gain a lot when we work on posture. You can tell a lot about how a person is feeling based on how they carry themselves. For example, slouched shoulders and a drooped head usually indicate sadness. Researchers have found that you can change the way you feel just by changing the way you stand. Forcing yourself to stand up straight and pushing your shoulders back changes your skeletal alignment. One study showed that doing this for 1-2 minutes can actually increase the cortisone and testosterone levels in your body, making you feel more energetic and confident.
The way you stand also impacts the way people perceive you. People with poor posture are often seen as less confident and meek. In fact, researchers from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management found that the way people hold themselves in a job interview may even carry more weight than their work experience or qualifications. Think about that!
Here are some exercises to help get you standing straighter, taller and more confidently.
- Shoulder External Rotations: Roll your shoulders back and down. Tuck your pelvis in slightly to maintain a neutral lower back position. Slowly twist your wrists until your thumbs point away from you. Hold for a few seconds and release.
- Chin Tuck: Stand with your hips and shoulders against a wall and your heels an inch or two away from the wall. Lifting through the crown of your head, gently bring your chin down toward your throat while pressing the back of the head against the wall for a few seconds. Rest and repeat.
- Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch: Start in a kneeling lunge position (one knee on the floor and the other leg bent 90 degrees in front of you with foot flat). Lift from the crown of your head to elongate your spine. From here, drive the hip of the kneeling leg in a gentle thrusting pattern to achieve the stretch. Hold for a few seconds, release and repeat.
- Hip Hinge With Fly: Place your feet hip-width apart and hinge at the hips while angling your upper body forward. Slightly arch your lower back by lifting your tailbone. Retract and depress your shoulder blades. Start with your palms clasped together directly in front of the chest. Then slowly swing your arms out to the side of your body at about shoulder height with a slight external shoulder rotation. Pause when you feel contraction in your upper posterior muscles and a stretch in your pectorals.