Easy posture tips you can use throughout your day

April 29th 2023
No one’s perfect and that’s part of what makes us who we are, and where we’ve been but being mindful of our posture and taking steps to address imbalances can lead to less pain and better function! So whenever you have to wait – whether it be line somewhere or on the phone – why not take the opportunity to check in with your body’s state to make sure there’s no strain anywhere. Just taking 5 seconds to objectively observe your surroundings (sounds, sensations, ect.) and your breath and body can have a calming effect in itself. To take this “centering” a step further here is a quick checklist for less pain in the feet, knees, back and neck! 
  1. Take some time to breathe into the lower lobes of your lungs – not only high up in your chest. With every breath allow your shoulders to relax, and your whole torso to gently stretch and recoil.
  2. Spread your toes and point your feet straight ahead (not out).
  3. Distribute your weight evenly throughout your feet (same across the balls of the feet and the centres of your heels) and lift your arches.
  4. If standing, keep your knees slightly soft and not locked/super straight.
  5. Make sure your hips, ribs, head are back and not shifting forward. If seated, check that your sit bones are back and directly stacked under your rib cage and head. Keep a long spine (don’t collapse).

These easy tips can be applied to your workouts also. This will help reduce unnecessary forces on your spine, joints and tissues and help maintain balance in the whole body. Since every part of your body is connected, if one body part is shifted out of place the rest of the body is affected and has to compensate. For example, every muscle has a role, some work better as stabilizers and others more as mobilizers and when one muscle is weak, another less suitable muscle may take over the job. Or when there is a misalignment somewhere some muscles get “locked long” which can lead to a weakness and others “locked short” which can lead to tightness, paving the way for a disfunction, strain or injury.

At first this may seem like a lot of work so you may want to start with one tip at a time until it becomes easier. This “work” can actually be very meditative as you are focusing on the present moment. Notice how your tension melts away by actively being more aware. I do this checklist when I have to wait for my kid at daycare, it is a nice change of pace, a minute for “me time” and makes the time pass quickly. 

I also try to take a few moments throughout the day to work on my back breathing and keeping my front ribs in as I they like to flare out. Some distention is good – you want that 360 degree expansion in the belly, pelvic floor, back, and sides and even a bit in the chest when you inhale and a downward “connection” of the ribs on the exhale. This brings me to another important factor that affects posture which is the way you breathe. The diaphragm plays a huge role in postural support as explained by Dr. Sarah Ellis Duvall. She also notes that the position of your ribcage affects the shape and function of the diaphragm. So the way you breathe affects your posture and your posture can affect the way you breathe! A tendency many of us have is either slouching (which can cause neck pain) or popping ribs forward (which can cause back pain). Breathing is the first of the 5 basic principles in Pilates and the exercises ensure a balanced-out posture through strengthening and lengthening (while having a fun workout!) and to really delve into the world of breath work we have a special breath work class to help unlock pain (mental and physical!). If you’re interested in trying our Pilates or Breathwork classes you can check out our schedule.

Written by Katherine Murray


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