You've probably heard that good posture is beneficial for communication, appearance and self-confidence, but keeping an effective posture while exercising may also help you reduce the risk of injury and back pain that may result from your workouts. Additionally, proper posture helps you work out more efficiently as proper body alignment results in less stress on your muscles and ligaments.
According to MayoClinic.com, there are three curves you should look for to determine if your spine is properly aligned: cervical, thoracic and lumbar curves. These are natural curves that allow for muscles and ligaments to be at ease. The cervical curve is found at the neck and should be curved towards the front of your body. The thoracic curve is located at the upper back and has a curve that is opposite the cervical curve. This curve is influenced by your shoulder and pectoral muscles. The third curve is the lumbar curve at the base of the spine, right above the tailbone. These three curves help maintain balance in the body so that your weight is evenly distributed.
How to Achieve It
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends to remember four things while trying to improve your posture: shoulders back, stand tall, chest out and chin up. Maintaining this position ensure that all three of your curves are properly aligned. Although this may feel awkward at first, it will quickly become second nature. However, for an even better posture, also do exercises that focus on your core and pectoral muscles.
Improving the strength of your back, core and pectoral muscles can result in better posture. Try exercises such as the abdominal pull-in and chest expansion. You can perform both exercises while sitting or standing, so you should not find it too hard to incorporate them into your day. Moreover, they are relatively inconspicuous so you can utilize them whenever you notice a slouch in your posture.
This exercise is recommended for achieving good posture by both the Harvard Medical School and MayoClinic.com. Begin either seated or standing, making sure your shoulders are back and your chin is up. Inhale to the count of five while pulling your abdominal muscles towards your spine, then exhale slowly to the count of five while releasing your ab muscles. Repeat based on your level of comfort.
The American College on Exercise recommends this yoga position for the improvement of posture through pectoral strengthening. Begin by interlacing your hands behind your back; the inner sides of your arms should face each other. Inhale deeply using your diaphragm so that your belly expands. You should notice your pectoral muscles and arms rising slightly. Exhale slowly, and then continue this exercise for one to three minutes.
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