Stand Up Straight!
Last week we defined body mechanics as ways in which the body moves and maintains balance while making the most efficient use of all its parts. This week, we’re going to get into the first of the four main areas of body mechanics: Posture.
Posture is simply the way your head, torso, arms, and legs are aligned. Remember how our parents were always telling us to stand up straight? They were right. Just like proper tire alignment for a car, proper alignment of our bodies puts less strain on our moving parts. With less strain on muscles and ligaments, you won’t get tired as quickly and there’s less chance of injury/damage due to misalignment or being off balance. You look more confident when you’re standing up straight, too.
There are quite a few things to keep in mind to achieve and maintain good posture. They’re easy to do, though.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
- Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your knees soft/ever so slightly bent. Don’t lock your knees.
- Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of the body. Nothing fancy here. Just let ‘em hang.
- Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled back. If you’re not sure your shoulders are in the right position, scrunch them up towards your ears as tight as you can for a few seconds and then just let them drop. Do that a few times and then gently roll your shoulders back and down to let them settle into place.
- Tuck your stomach in. This doesn’t mean to suck your gut in and tense up your shoulders and neck while you’re holding your breath. Gently pull your stomach in to support your spine. You should be able to breathe easily, allowing your lungs and your diaphragm to expand and contract effortlessly.
- Keep your head level – your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Like my beginners’ ballet teacher used to tell us, close your eyes and pretend there’s a string coming from the top of your head. Feel the string getting pulled up gently and let your head and neck straighten out naturally. Seriously – try it. You’ll actually feel your chin levelling out as your neck straightens up.
- If you’re going to be standing for a long time, shift your weight from your toes to your heels, or one foot to the other. Walk around and do some stretches so your muscles don’t get tight.
Give yourself a few minutes to do a mental check-in throughout the day – are your shoulders burning? Are your knees or hips letting you know they’re there? We’re fighting gravity all day long, so take a minute and reset. Start at your feet and work your way up to your head, gently guiding and realigning your body into the correct posture. It will become a habit that you’ll want to keep!