Today we’re talking about posture. All of us know what good posture is—we can probably still hear our moms and grandmas and teachers telling us to “Stand up straight!” or “Sit up straight,” or “Don’t slouch!”
But now that we’re adults and don’t have our moms, grandmas and teachers around constantly to tell us what to do, we may have developed some bad postural habits.
Good posture is important for everyone, because it makes you look better (ie: taller and leaner), and it’s good for your health. Poor posture puts excessive stress and wear on certain joints and muscles. It looks bad and it causes pain. How many times have you spent a lot of time at the computer or behind the wheel only to have horrible back pain as you finally stood up? Better posture could help eliminate that pain.
This is of particular importance to writers because poor posture can hurt our creativity. I’ll explain.
Let’s try something. Stop what you’re doing and give me your worst posture, all slumped over and slouched. Staying in that position, take a deep breath and let it out. Now straighten up, shoulders back, chest out and take another deep breath. Notice the difference? Your breathing was much easier when you were sitting up straight, wasn’t it?
Slumping requires more muscle activity so it uses up more of our precious energy. Poor posture inhibits circulation, which means your body isn’t getting the oxygen it needs to function at its best. And if you remember from my last blog about exercise and creativity, your muse doesn’t do well without plenty of oxygen.
So, what is good posture?
When you’re seated, whether at the computer or behind the wheel, it’s sitting up straight, belly gently in, shoulders back and down, chin tucked slightly. When you’re standing, it’s balancing your weight evenly between both of your feet, pelvis just slightly tucked, belly in, shoulders relaxed and not hunched by your ears, chin not jutting forward.
You might find that holding good posture is not comfortable, maybe even it hurts a bit. This is probably because your chest muscles are so tight from hunching forward.
Here are some good chest openers:
Stand or sit with your back tall and straight. Clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms and raise your hands. Hold for 20-30 seconds while taking deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
Stand in a doorway and lift your arms out to the side, your forearms resting on the frame. Lean forward into your arms, feeling the stretch through your chest. Hold for 20-30 seconds while breathing deeply.
If you have one of those big exercise balls, sit on one and walk your feet forward until you’re lying backward over the ball. Stretch your arms overhead or out to the side. Hold for as long as you want, at least 30 seconds.
Roll up a beach towel, yoga mat or exercise mat. Lie back on it, the roll centered along your spine, length-wise. Let your arms fall open to the sides. Straighten or bend your legs, whatever is most comfortable. Hold this position, breathing deeply for 3-5 minutes. It feels fabulous—you’ll love it.
Have I convinced you yet to work on your posture? No? How ‘bout this? Good posture will make you look 10 pounds lighter.
Now, stand up straight! Don’t slouch!