Your posture is the relationship between your muscles and your bones, and since muscles move bones, our posture is determined by the balance and stability our core muscles provide. If you have a slouched posture, it is most likely because your daily activities are dominating the balance between your muscles which will change your posture. So while you might be able to stabilize your spine by bracing your core, it might not be beneficial for correct posture.
Essentially, posture is how you hold your body. There are two types of posture:
Dynamic posture is how you hold yourself when you are moving, like when you are walking, running, or bending over to pick up something.
Static posture is how you hold yourself when you are not moving, such as when you are sitting, standing, or sleeping.
Knowing what proper posture is and consciously being aware of your own posture takes time and usually some guidance. Proper posture training involves the core muscles, so you are essentially pre-programming all of the muscles in your body to provide stability and produce motion.
What is considered good posture?
Having good posture means you can draw a straight line from your ear, to your shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle, which places your joints in a “neutral,” stable, and balanced position. The key to good posture is the position of your spine. Your spine has three (3) natural curves - at your neck, mid back, and low back. Correct posture should maintain these curves, but not increase them. Your head should be above your shoulders, and the tops of your shoulders should be over your hips.
Check out your current posture with the wall test:
Start by finding a wall (preferably without a baseboard) or a door
In a comfortable symmetrical stance, place your heels, butt, shoulders, and back of your head against the wall
Place the back of your palms next to your body in contact with the wall while drawing your shoulders back towards the wall
Relax your gaze on the horizon and breathe normally
If you’re having a hard time keeping your head, shoulders, hips, and heels against the wall without flaring your ribcage, then this article is for you.
Benefits of good posture
There are several benefits of having proper posture that will help you, especially for boxing training.
Reduced risk of injury
Increased core strength
Better motor control
Improved force for throwing punches
Good posture can help prevent muscle strain, overuse disorders, and back and muscular pain. When you have proper posture, you keep your bones and joints in alignment. This decreases the abnormal wearing of joint surfaces, reduces stress on the ligaments holding your spinal joints together, and allows your muscles to work more efficiently.
Tips to improve your posture
How can I improve my posture when sitting?
To improve your posture when sitting, follow these steps:
Switch sitting positions often
Take standing breaks or brief walks around your office or home
Gently stretch your muscles every so often to help relieve muscle tension
Don't cross your legs; keep your feet on the floor, with your ankles in front of your knees
Make sure that your feet touch the floor, or if that's not possible, use a footrest
Relax your shoulders – they should not be rounded forward
Keep your elbows close to your body – they should be bent between 90 and 120 degrees
Make sure that your back is fully supported, and use a back pillow or other back support if your chair does not have a backrest that can support your lower back's curve
How can I improve my posture when standing?
To improve your posture when standing, follow these steps:
Stand up straight and tall
Align your second and third toe with your knees
Keep your shoulders down and back, away from your ears
Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet
Keep your head level
Let your arms hang down naturally at your sides
Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart
Exercises to improve the muscles associated with good posture
Now that you know what good posture is and how you can maintain good posture when standing and sitting, here are some exercises you can do to improve and strengthen your muscles and attain better posture.
Stand upright with your back against the wall, feet shoulder-width apart, and your arms in a cactus position with palms facing out
Keeping your arms pressed into the wall, lower your elbows as far as possible
Hold for a moment, then slide your arms up the wall as high as they will go without losing contact with the wall
When you start to lose contact, bring your arms back to the starting position
Repeat the cycle for 30-60 seconds daily
Lay on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, and arms next to your body palms facing the sky
Your head should stay on the ground throughout the movement
On your exhale, press through your feet and raise your hips to the sky, squeezing your glutes and making a straight line from your knees to hips to shoulders
On your inhale, lower your hips slowly and touch the ground with your butt
Repeat this press for 30-60 seconds
Standing Wall Chest Stretch
Stand in a doorway or on the corner of a wall
Bend your right elbow at a 90 degree angle at shoulder height and place your forearm against the wall
Exhale and gently press your weight into the wall until you feel a stretch in your chest
On your inhale, relieve the tension by leaning back
Repeat the cycle with a slow controlled breath for 30-60 seconds on each arm
Begin on all fours in tabletop position with your hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and a neutral spine
Extend one arm out away from you with your biceps by your ear
Reach your opposite foot/leg away at the same time
While maintaining your neutral spine, try and reach away through your fingers and toes as much as possible to create a long line
Be mindful of your hips wanting to shift, as you resist to help maintain your plank
Repeat on the opposite side
Do this cycle for 30-60 seconds daily
Start on all fours in a tabletop position with your hands under your shoulders, knees under your hips, and a neutral spine
Relax your shoulders and pull them back towards your hips
Inhale (to come to cow pose), raise your chin, and gaze up, while drawing and tilting your pelvis back
Exhale (for cat pose), bring your chin to your chest as you pull your spine toward the sky and tuck your tailbone
Repeat the cycle for 30-60 seconds daily
Keep It Straight
It takes attention and intention to change back to a proper posture. It may seem tedious at first, but it will feel more natural over time. Start by paying attention to how you sit and how you stand. Try to implement at least three out of the five of the suggested exercises every day and you will surely notice a change in how you breathe, train, and feel.
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