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Fitness

Style Hack: Improve Your Posture

An easy way to boost health, productivity, and power

We’ve heard it from our parents, our coaches, – and unfortunately – a few of us have heard it from doctors after a spell of grueling back pain. Posture – the way one carries their entire frame – matters.

(Pauses to: sit upright/relax shoulders/straighten neck/put more than six inches between me and my computer screen….)

A-n-n-n-d we’re back.

Your head and spine are supposed to be in complete alignment – with that invisible string connecting them serving as the foundation for every move you make.

Meaning? Today’s the day to improve your posture, guys.

Why posture matters 

Improving your posture is an extension of leveling-up your life each day – and you can quite literally up your elevation. Apart from avoiding any Quasimodo comparisons, a proper upright frame effectively lengthens and slims your silhouette. That’s right, looking taller and beating a beer belly is as easy as “head up, shoulders back, and mind your spine”.

Think of those wardrobe essentials you’ve invested in and brought to the tailor. You’ll notice that the person tucking and pinning your new suit jacket ensures that you’re standing straight before making any measurements. While you may oblige to avoid getting poked by a pin, the real purpose is to tailor your clothes at the point where they look the best: on a streamlined upright frame. The quickest way to remember why clothes look better on someone with good posture? Imagine a mannequin versus caveman comparison. 

benefits of good posture 

What if we told you that you could be more productive, breathe better, and feel stronger and more confident with very minimal effort?

If it sounds like we’re about to announce a 1-800 number to call for a limited time offer, you can rest easy (or hang-up the home phone) because these are all benefits of good posture. 

Proper posture decreases the damage that everyday movement and stressors have on your body. Neck pain, headaches, and scoliosis have all been attributed to inefficiently supporting one’s frame. What’s more, improved posture does far more than mitigate possible pain. Keeping your chest upright allows more oxygen to flow through your body, which increases the ability to – you guessed it – breathe.

As for how improved posture can be impactful in the immediate timeframe? Productivity and power.

Posture has always been a factor in perceived power – from Superman’s signature pose to primates’ stand-offs in nature. According to Amy Cuddy’s famed study on power posing, adopting a strong, upright body position increases testosterone and decreases that pesky stress hormone. This combination not only looks more powerful, it helps you feel more confident and comfortable in any situation.

In a study on cognition and emotion, men perform better while at an upright position as a result of improved concentration and confidence gained from assuming that power pose we talked about. Your back may thank you for not slouching at work, but your boss will be just as grateful – and impressed too.

how to start improving

In the same way bad habits take time to develop, good habits take time to sink in – but hey, we’ve got to start somewhere. You could take notes from finishing school curriculum and constantly balance a book atop your cranium, though we have a sneaking suspicion that’s not topping anyone’s to-do list. Lucky for us, improving your posture requires a little mind power, a conscious environment, and supportive stretching to to help along the way. 

While a lot of posture issues can be remedied by consistently reminding yourself to sit or stand at a proper position, there are ways to redesign your environment to set up for success: 

  • Ensure your desk or computer screen is at a height that doesn’t cause you to hunch over to look down or strain your neck to look up.
  • Use headphones when talking on the phone instead of craning your neck to go hands-free.
  • Invest in an ergonomic chair and keyboard to align your back and limbs while working.
  • Keep your workspace close enough to allow your elbows to fall close to your torso when writing or typing – this will keep your shoulders back and relaxed.
  • Don’t stay stationary! Even the most perfect posture will be nullified by non-movement. Take breaks often to stand, stretch, and step about.

Is your situation all set? That’s what we like to hear. You may remember from our Workout 101: Vinyasa Yoga that posture is a guiding tenet of the entire practice. In addition to bringing awareness to the body overall, certain yoga poses will also strengthen your core to support your spine, strengthen your back, open your chest, relax your shoulders, and lengthen your frame. Practice these for a few minutes each day and the rewards will speak for themselves.

Take a proactive approach to posture with helpful poses: 

Superman

Pyramid Pose

The Cobra

The Bridge

gifs by: Joel Castillo of whatdoiwear.co | shot at Nike+ 45 Grand training studio in NYC

Time for a (self) check-up

One of the most effective ways to remind yourself to do a posture check is to set an intention. Are you improving your foundation to fix a back problem? Is it important to appear confident? Are you looking to increase circulation and productivity? Take a conscious approach to why posture matters to you, and reminders will become second nature.

Let’s do a quick assessment:

Now that you’re feeling (and looking) good, set a reminder on your phone to check your posture and stretch at multiple increments throughout the day. Your back – and confidence – will thank you.

TELL ME:

WHAT GOOD HABITS ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN YOUR DAILY LIFE?

Amp up your fitness game with Style Girlfriend’s “Workout 101” series

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