Your mom's advice to sit up straight and stand tall was well-intentioned. Unfortunately, few people have been taught how to maintain good posture. Instead, we've followed bad posture myths that cause muscle strain and make it even harder to achieve good alignment. See how easy it is to correct bad posture by learning which myths to ignore and what to do instead.
Myth #1 - Good posture is about looking good
People with good posture look better, more confident and believable that those with average posture. Standing upright also makes you taller, usually a half an inch taller, but alignment is more important than that. Poor posture compromises your ability to breathe, which dampens mental clarity and physical strength. Standing and sitting with good posture helps every system in the body, it minimizes the risk of injuries such as pulling muscles or repetitive strain injuries. Many common aches and pains are due to bad posture.
Myth #2 - The right way to stand or sit up is to pull your shoulders back
If you are slumped and pull your shoulders back, the biggest effect is to add tension in your neck, which is not a sustainable posture. The problem with a slouch isn't in the shoulders, it is the rib cage that drops forward. The solution is first and foremost to get grounded. If you're sitting that means both feet on the floor. If you're standing that means having your hips over your feet. The second step is to align your ribs over your hips. With your ankles, hips and ribs in line, the chest naturally lifts and the shoulders drop down and back. Viola!
Myth #3 - Good posture requires tension
If you've been taught to pull your shoulders back, correct posture will seem tense to you, but as you learned above, good posture starts from the ground up. Structural alignment requires core strength in the legs and deep abdominals, so the upper body is able to relax without tension. When you are developing your alignment, practice for a few minutes at a time and slowly build up to give your core muscles a chance to develop their good posture strength. Whenever you feel tension building, that's a sign that your core is not on line.
Myth #4 - Standing or sitting straight requires a straight spine
In slouched posture, the spine is shaped like a "C." A healthy spine naturally has curves that prevent injury. Small arches in the neck and low back should be maintained when sitting and standing, even when the spine is lengthening and the crown of the head is reaching for the sky. The spine is shaped like an elongated, tall "S" in good posture.
Make your mom proud with posture that looks good and nourishes your body. Start from the ground up, aligning head, ribs, and hips over your ankles, engaging your core, letting your upper body relax, and keeping the natural gentle curves in your spine. Take the time to practice healthy posture every day and soon it will be an effortless habit.
To learn more about alignment, posture and structural integration, visit http://www.undulationexercise.com. Anita Boser, LMP, CHP, RYT 500 is a Certified Hellerwork Practitioner and Registered Yoga Teacher who has helped hundreds of people achieve better alignment.
Added: 11 марта 2011
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