WHY GOOD POSTURE IS MORE THAN SITTING UP STRAIGHT
By Essentrics Master Trainer, Gail Garceau
We all want good posture, as standing straight and tall is often associated with youth and vitality. It gives us an edge of confidence and in turn, we feel good about ourselves. Developing proper posture is imperative to our health and wellness, but the irony is that it is far more complex than just standing up straight. In many cases, when we are asked to stand with good posture, we unconsciously sink into our lower back or allow our upper back to round forwards. While good posture is determined by the position of the spine, it is affected by how we use our full body.
The spine is the centre of all our movement, and when one part of the body is imbalanced, our posture is usually compromised. Common imbalances include a tight chest, hip flexors or hamstrings, which can pull our bones out of alignment and make it difficult to stand correctly. Similarly, weak abs, spine and glute muscles also make it difficult to support our body. Taking the time to rebalance the muscles related to our spine and ensuring our vertebrae are correctly aligned are key to healthy posture.
Essentrics is a full body fitness technique that systematically unlocks every joint in the body—making it easier to pull up and unlock your spine. Our bodies’ habitual movement patterns—the way we hold ourselves while standing, sitting or performing tasks such as lifting, bending, pulling or reaching—strongly affect our alignment. Essentrics promotes the development of total body flexibility in order to be able to move through full range of motion and helps build strength in our muscles to ensure that our complete upper and lower body feels supported and is in turn able to stand up straight and tall.
3 EXERCISES TO INSTANTLY IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE
1. Essentrics Ceiling Reaches
Essentrics Ceiling reaches are a great way to immediately improve posture and stretch your back. Lifting the arms above the head helps to simultaneously stretch and strengthen the muscles that run along the spine. The ‘pulling up’ exercises used in this technique will liberate the ribcage, back and hips.
Windmills are a powerful posture exercise that targets the large muscles of the torso, as well as the smaller muscles that run up the spine. The windmill action of the arms helps to elongate both sides of the torso, one at a time, gently stretching and strengthening the surrounding muscles and connective tissue, while working the full body and opening your posture.
3. Hip Flexor Stretch
Sitting for hours on end pulls on the lower spine, leading to a shortening of the hip flexor muscles — an important group that attaches the lower leg to the hip and the thighbone to the spine. Tightness in these muscles can lead to pain downward (into the knees) or upward (causing back pain) – which then leads to imbalance further along the muscle chains. Stretching and rebalancing the full leg, hip, and spine through these dynamic stretches help to relieve back, hip, and knee pain while simultaneously improving your posture.