These tips may not be what you think... I'm not here to tell you to sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, tuck your chin, and suck in your belly. As much as this is what is perceived to be "perfect posture", have you ever tried to sit with perfect posture for 8 hours a day? Even the best of postures is going to leave you a little stiff and achy from maintaining one posture for a long period of time.
A better way to look at posture, is that we have innumerable postures that our bodies can adapt to throughout our lifetime! Our bodies just aren't meant to sit or stay in one static position for hours a day, they're meant to move. So, instead of trying to perfect your posture, let's think about ways we can keep moving our bodies throughout the day to break up the monotony of sitting at your desk, hunching over a client, or even standing at a busy counter all day.
I have 5 tips that will help you feel more successful in working on your posture without the goal of "perfection" AND help you achieve more movement in your every day. Let's get into them!
Strengthen Your Core. Core is a commonly misused term, which is a topic for another blog post, but think about your core being the entire trunk of your body - chest, abdomen, back, low back, glutes, hip flexors, pelvic floor, diaphragm, and more! Doing exercises that support the core can help to strengthen your entire trunk, which helps maintain a better posture without discomfort.
Add Variety to Your Exercise Routine. If we want our bodies to be comfortable in all ranges of motion, we have to consistently put them in the ranges of motion we want to accomplish! Seems logical, right? Moving differently in ways such as doing lateral lunges, plyometrics, mobility work, a good warm up routine, strength training in all planes and ranges of motion can help to make you feel less stiff and more prepared to enter those ranges of motion when you need it most. Also, variety DOES NOT mean random. These exercises should reflect the qualities of movement that you want to access at any point -- moving quickly, jumping, landing, moving side to side or laterally instead of forward or backward, crossing the midline, back rotations, etc... are just a few things to think about integrating into your regular routine.
Have a Snack - A Movement Snack. I know, silly term, but one you won't forget! For those that have a desk job and are sitting at a desk all day, truck drivers sitting all day, hair stylists hunching over clients all day, and any other job you can think of that requires a lot of time in one position... these will be life changing for you. A movement snack is exactly what it sounds like. When you're hungry, but not hungry for a full meal, we reach for a snack. When you're feeling stiff and achy after being in one position for a long time, reach for a movement snack to break up some of that discomfort. It takes 5 minutes or less, and can make you feel a lot better, especially the more consistent you are with these throughout the day. Take a few minutes to move in the opposite direction you were just in. If you're slouched at a desk, think about moves that help you open up the chest, put some extension into the mid to low back, and moves the neck back over your shoulders.
Change Your Position. This one sounds almost too easy... but it's true. If you can change the way you're sitting, switch to a standing position for a while, change up the chair you're sitting in... any and all positions are good for your body, so long as you're not experiencing pain in them. In between changing up your position, try a movement snack 😛
Take a Few Mindful Moments to Breathe, Tense Up & Relax. The longer we stay in certain positions, the more the sensation of muscular tension seeps in. If you're able to take a few moments when feeling some of that tension to be mindful of how your body is feeling, follow these steps to try to relax those tissues. Start by closing your eyes. Then, take a deep breath in through the nose and hold it, intentionally tense up all of your muscles as hard as possible for 3-5 seconds, followed by a big exhale and big relaxation of that tension, you may feel a huge difference. Do this about 3-5 times, and see how you feel. Bonus points if you pair this with one or more of the other tips above!
Our bodies are meant to move, not sit for hours upon hours a day. With the way our working world is, this is unfortunately something we deal with on a regular basis now. Using these tips to help combat some of that discomfort should help.
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