Posture can be defined in two ways. The first being the position in which someone holds their body upright when standing or sitting and the second being a particular approach or attitude. If you’re upright, shoulders back, core engaged you look strong, confident and in control, whereas a person who has rounded shoulders and is hunched over may appear more negative and unapproachable. Niko Algieri, co-owner and director of Equilibrium, reveals how to recognize and correct a less-than-perfect posture:
1. Sitting down
You must make sure you are sitting correctly. We all sit in a chair with our hips in front of the spine with our tailbone tucked, our back and shoulders rounded and slumped - this is not the correct posture. Get your hips underneath your spine, chest up, shoulders back and you’re already in a better position.
2. Vitamin D deficiency
If you’re not getting enough natural sunlight UV exposure which stimulates Vitamin D production in the body, then in turn you’re not absorbing enough calcium from your diet to strengthen your bones. Weak bones will lead to back and neck pain directly affecting your posture. An article in the July 2007 issue of the "New England Journal of Medicine" states that vitamin D deficiency is associated with throbbing, aching pain and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome and depression. Too hot outside? You can also get vitamin D from foods such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs. Also consider supplements to kick-start those D levels.
3. Core strength
If your core (this is not just your abs but also the deeper muscles including the transverse abdominals, multifidus, diaphragm, pelvic floor) is not strong or engaged you’ll slip back into bad posture. You can strengthen your core doing Pilates, TRX or Yoga classes but in truth it needs to be used in any movement so please seek out a fitness professional first to help with first steps.
Sitting hunched over your phone or laptop is one of the worst things you can do for your posture. Not only does it look bad, but it also shortens your hip flexors and hamstrings, and shortens the pecs (chest muscles). Tight hips will tip the body forward whilst walking and the short chest muscles will pull the shoulders forward giving you a hunched look. Flexibility is an element of fitness so needs to be worked on as much as cardio and strength training. Try 10 mins extra stretching on your hips, glutes and hamstrings after every session this week and your posture will improve immediately.
5. Mind-Body Connection
You have to also be aware of your posture. If you remain oblivious to your body position it will relax and slump back in to old habits. Try standing, setting your shoulders back and down, switching on your core every time you need to move. Make it habitual and the body will soon learn that this is the way to move. Your body will look fitter, your confidence will improve and you’ll own the room as soon as you glide into it.