Women

Want to look slimmer in seconds? Then it’s time to push injury risk aside and stand up tall!

Smart girls know the perils of poor posture - it makes them gain a bigger waistline and lose a lot of height. ‘Perfect posture has many visual benefits,’ says fitness guru Hayley Newton. ‘You’ll move with more freedom, grace and confidence, plus there’s the added bonus of looking healthier and slimmer.’ Don’t believe it? Findings in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology back this, showing that people who stand tall also feel more powerful, in control and better able to tolerate distress.

But there are plenty of other reasons for avoiding the Quasimodo look - reduced risk of back pain, greater flexibility, improved resilience to injury and more oxygen flow to the muscles, to name a few. ‘Correct posture keeps your bones and joints in alignment,’ explains Dr. Martin Knight, back specialist at spinal foundation.org. ‘This helps ensure that your muscles are being used properly, meaning your body uses less energy to function. It also decreases the stress on ligaments by holding the joints of the spine in place, which reduces muscular pain and strain.’ The net result is that you’re able to exercise more efficiently, and with a greater range of movement, for longer. Hurrah!

Description: The net result is that you’re able to exercise more efficiently, and with a greater range of movement, for longer.

The net result is that you’re able to exercise more efficiently, and with a greater range of movement, for longer.

Unfortunately, modern living seems intent on squashing our postural potential. ‘Today’s thirst for technology affects our form in so many ways,’ reveals Knight, ‘Spending all day on a computer, set at the wrong height, can cause the hamstrings to shorten, the shoulders to hunch and the neck to droop. Then, after 20 minutes of sitting, the lumbar spine slouches, tummy bulges and back degenerates.’ Not good news - especially for fitness fans. ‘Proper posture is really important for gym goers,’ adds Newton. ‘Of course, correct posture is essential when weight training for safety reasons, but exercisers who have good posture also burn more calories and achieve better muscle tone than those doing the same exercises with bad form.’

The bottom line? Slumped shoulders are not going to help you hone the hot bod you want. Fortunately, we know how to get you standing tall...

Get it right

Bad posture can be corrected by a physiotherapist but try this nifty exercise first:

1.    Stand with your back against a wall and heels three inches away from it. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart and arms at your side, palms facing forward.

2.    Keep your lower back close to the wall, straighten your upper back, lift your chest and bring shoulders back against the wall.

3.    Pull your head back to touch the wall and tuck in your chin. Imagine a piece of string drawing the middle of your head back.

4.    Contract the muscles in your tummy and then relax by 50 per cent The light contraction flattens the stomach muscles, while allowing you to breathe normally.

5.    Hold this position for 10 seconds, relax and repeat four times daily.

Perfect posture

Want fantastic form? Good standing posture means straight alignment from head to heel. In fact, from a side view, you should be able to draw a line through your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. Get a friend to take a side-view photo of you and assess your posture.

Description: Good standing posture means straight alignment from head to heel.

Good standing posture means straight alignment from head to heel.

Shoulders

Stop slouching! Shoulders should be relaxed and aligned, not drooped forward. As a rule of thumb, keep your shoulders back, chin parallel with the floor and chest out. Hang arms by your sides to ease shoulder tension.

Stomach

A toned core is crucial. Strong abdominals will support your spine and help keep your body straight. Tuck your tummy in by drawing your belly button back towards the spine.

Knee

Never lock your knees, or any other joint for that matter Your legs should be shoulder-width apart, with knees slightly bent to take some of the pressure off your hips.

Head

Do you slump your head forward, pull it backwards or tilt it to one side? Keep your head level by ensuring your earlobes are in line with your shoulders.

Back

Does your spine have a smooth S-shaped curve? An excessive curve of the upper back will cause shoulders to slump forward, while an enhanced lower back curve will make your tummy jut out.

Pelvis

Are your hips level or is one side higher than the other? Your pelvis should be in a neutral position with your hips directly under your shoulders. Weak abdominal muscles may cause your pelvis to rotate forward and the lower back to curve, if your pelvis is tilted, Dr. Knight recommends strengthening the abdominal, diaphragm, back and pelvic floor muscles, so that the pelvis rotation can return to normal.

Description: Keep your head level by ensuring your earlobes are in line with your shoulders.

Keep your head level by ensuring your earlobes are in line with your shoulders.

Feet

Keep your feet in line with your knees and your weight evenly spread over both feet. The heel and ball should be flat on the ground. Don’t let your ankles roll in, as that will push your weight to the insides of your feet.

 

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