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 stiffness. So whenever you have to wait – whether it be in line somewhere or on the phone – why not take the opportunity to check in with your body to make sure there’s no strain anywhere. Just taking 10 seconds to observe your surroundings (sounds, etc.) and your breath and body (where you’re breathing, sensations you feel ect.) can be useful to destress and focus. 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 ribs (this may not come easy at first if you’re used to breathing in the chest or belly). With every breath allow your shoulders to relax, and your ribcage gently expand and recoil (it’s okay to allow some movement in your belly and chest).
  2. If standing, keep your knees slightly bent (straight but not locked).
  3. Notice your feet, try to point your feet straight ahead (not out, which can lead to knee pain). Distribute your weight evenly throughout your feet so you feel the even pressure like a tripod (3 corners of your feet). 
  4. 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 to one side, front or back).

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 leading to less stiffness and pain. 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 sometimes muscles get “locked long” which can lead to a weakness and others “locked short” which can lead to tightness, which can affect the nearby structures in the chain.

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. Try not to force anything or stress over it. This is meant to reduce tension by just becoming 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 low ribcage breathing and connecting my ribs on the exhale. You want that 360 degree expansion in the ribs, belly, pelvic floor, back, and sides and even a bit in the chest when you inhale and a downward closing of the ribs on the exhale. The way we breathe affects our posture and our posture affects the way we 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.  A common tendency is to slouch or thrust the ribs forward and arch the back (which both can cause neck and back pain). Breathing is the first of the 5 basic principles in Pilates and the exercises ensure a balanced-out posture through strengthening and stretching (while having a fun workout!). To really delve into the world of breath work we have a Breathwork class to help unlock pain (mental and physical!). For all our class times you can visit our schedule.

Written by Katherine Murray