Need help with your posture? Read these tips from fit mom ambassador, Heather about how to improve your posture.
Heather Valentine is a National Academy of Sports Nutrition Certified Personal Trainer and Nutritionist who believes in building your best body from the inside out. For more fitness tips and clean, paleo and vegan friendly recipes visit Heather’s website and blog One Fit Mother and be sure to follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my posture lately. Yours too…and guess what? We’ve got problems. I know this without even looking at you because the majority of us – especially moms- spend our time doing things that put our bodies out of optimal alignment. We sit. Then we plant our weight on our tailbones instead of our sits bones. We drive. And we simply don’t walk enough. As women, we wreak even more havoc on our posture by doing crazy things like having babies and slouching our tired bodies over newborns. Then we graduate to the forward pull of the blessed Bjorn while chasing around other kidlets a third of our size. And then, eventually, we start wearing heels again.
That’s just life, right? Yes and no… being aware of how we stand and move can prevent problems that poor posture causes in our bodies. The obvious being joint pain. Over time the compression from our lack of alignment can cause chronic pain in the back, hips, shoulders, knees and ankles. Slouching in front of a computer or the wheel of a car will eventually lead to reduced flexibility and compromised muscles. And this, dear reader, absolutely limits your ability to burn fat and build strength. Have no fear! Proper alignment can be corrected and trained. And a bonus for moms with abdominal separation (Diastasis Recti) – proper posture greatly improves this condition by reducing the high pressure in your abdomen!
“Okay, Okay, I get it Heather. So how do I stand?” I’m so glad you asked!! Proper alignment involves stacking the three main cavities of the body – thoracic (upper back), abdominal and pelvic – neatly on top of each other with spaces between these masses so to speak. A vertical line should link all axes of the body. Your shoulders should be back and drawn down without your ribs thrusting out. No Superhero chest. Your lower abdominals should be drawn in without your butt being tucked under or clenched which pushes your pelvis forward. And I’m just gonna throw this out there, your knees should not be bent. Check yourself out in a mirror and then try the corrections. Chances are you will find it is harder to maintain this alignment than expected. If you are really intrigued and want to further your self study, this article explains how to analyze your alignment through photographs. It’s taking selfies to a whole new level…
Anyway, the start of a new week in SoCal equals an abundance of driving and it got me thinking. What better place to work on posture improvements than waiting at traffic lights, marveling at others’ driving skill sets and listening to “mom, mom, mom, mom…” over and over? Try these 3 quick and easy steps each time you get in the car this week to see and feel the difference in your posture by date night Saturday.
1. Sit in the driver’s seat of your car. Sit up straight and tall and create space between your masses by lifting your ribcage out of your pelvis. Now extend through the crown of your head. Think of a string pulling the top of your head to the roof of your car. Pull your shoulder blades down towards your hips and back towards your spine. Make sure your head is centered over your body and not out in front. These actions should get you sitting on the fleshy part of your butt (sits bones) thus relieving unnecessary pressure from your tailbone.
2. Take a deep breath and pull your bellybutton in tight towards your spine as you exhale and hold it. Lock those lower abs in and don’t let them go. From here just breathe normally. You should feel your abdominals working as you breathe from this position! This might feel strange at first. So, if your breath feels shallow, go deep. As you draw in air imagine filling your lungs while expanding your ribs sideways. And slow down your breath! Ahhh. Side effects of this type of breathing can be more oxygen flow to your brain and feeling calmer while you are out in the thick of your day.
3. This is your new strong and beautiful core….your literal pillar. Your vertical structure of steel used to support your frame. From here adjust your seat and mirrors. Your shoulders should stay in their sockets and your arms should move around your pillar instead of using your upper back doing the work. Check your posture as you drive. If you can see out of the mirrors, you have great alignment and your core muscles are activated and working. If you can’t see out of the mirrors, you know you’ve let go and you are back to slouching in your seat.
Congratulations! You are now training your abs using isometrics as well as getting pressure off of joints and organs that don’t need to be bothered. This will help to improve your posture while driving.
Like the way this feels? Test it out every time you sit at your desk or the dinner table. Start thinking about being drawn in with your shoulders back and down when you are walking and running errands. Now, go tackle your week ahead with your beautiful posture and let me know how it goes.
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