This post will help you learn how to have great posture.
For starters, imagine that your pelvis, ribcage, and head are like a child’s wooden playing blocks. Are they level and aligned? Does their positioning set you up nice and tall, or crush and grind?
Collapsed posture compromises the alignment of your bones from the center to the periphery of your extremities. This impacts the quality and efficiency of your movement, breath, digestion, circulation, and elimination. It often leads to uncomfortable muscular imbalances.
To better understand how to generate excellent posture, here are some details on your spine you should know.
Know Your Spinal Curves to Get Great Posture
The spine has five natural curves. The cervical (neck) spine curves toward the front of the body, the thoracic (ribcage) spine curves back, the lumbar (lower back) spine curves forward, the sacrum lifts slightly back, and the coccyx (tailbone) tucks slightly forward as well.
Have a look at the image on the right–this is a side view of your spine.
Now self-reflect: Is your spine curvy or does it have flat spots? Look at yourself sideways in the mirror. Or better yet, ask someone to take a picture of you.
Stand as you normally do, so the camera doesn’t lie! Then realign your ‘blocks’ (pelvis, ribcage, and head) to stand as upright as possible. Take another picture. How does this more aligned posture look and feel?
To check posture from the side view, a plumb line is often a good way to see what’s happening. Ideally, the center of the side of the ear should line up with the center of the sides of the shoulder, hip, and ankle.
Physios and athletic therapists often assess a patient’s posture using this simple visual.
Poor Posture Cues from Childhood
What are we so often told about posture when we’re young? Stand up straight, don’t slouch, and keep your shoulders back! These cues are easily misinterpreted.
For example, if you always pull your shoulders back, you may be creating tension in the upper back. Instead, I like to imagine that the outer points of my shoulders are supported evenly as if resting on a clothes hanger.
As they rest, they spread outward, widening the clavicles (collarbones) and making space between the scapulae (shoulder blades).
Spinal Massage and Mobility Exercises for Great Posture
Now let’s take a look at some rolling techniques on a Coregeous® sponge ball for improving your posture.
Posture Technique #1: The Neck (Cervical) Spine
Lie down on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Imagine that you have taken that tower of a child’s building blocks and carefully laid it down without changing the relationship between the blocks.
Place a Coregeous® ball behind your head at the base of your skull. This is called the occiput.
Breathe deeply and slowly while releasing the weight of your head into the soft support of the ball. You might want to adjust how much air is in the ball; less is better for this.
After about a minute, slowly nod your head “yes” while inhaling as you lift the chin, and exhaling as you lower it. Do this 5-10 times. Whenever I do this I say, “Yes! I love to care for my spine!”
Now slowly move your head to one side as you inhale, back to the center as you exhale. Alternate slowly to each side. This is where I say “No! I don’t like pain.”
Come back to rest in the center and notice if your neck feels longer. You may have just opened up a little space in your cervical spine!
Remove the ball and rest for a few moments.
Posture Technique #2: The Sacrum and Lower Back
Gently place the ball under your sacrum. Once again, simply allow your bodyweight to release into the ball and breathe deeply for one minute. Locate two points of anatomical reference–your sternum (breastbone) and the pubic bone.
Inhale and lengthen the space between these two points by arching to a gentle back extension with an anterior tilt of the pelvis. Exhale, draw those same two points closer together curving into small spinal flexion with the pelvis in a posterior tilt. Repeat 5-10 times.
Rest for a few breaths and then gently move sideways (right to left) 5-10 times. Let the ball give you a soothing massage on the lower back and hips.
Lift your hips just enough to remove the ball and notice how your lower back feels.
Posture Technique #3: The Ribcage and Thoracic Spine
The thoracic (ribcage) spine is an area that is naturally less mobile than the neck or lower back because it is attached to the ribcage.
It is also an area that gets tight and sore from a variety of activities: sitting, lengthy computer time, cell phone usage, driving a car, carrying babies, or having an occupation such as dental hygiene, cooking or hairstyling that requires bending forward.
Over time this can negatively affect your bones, soft tissues, and breathing.
Here’s a great way to loosen up your thoracic (or ribcage) spine.
Nestle the Coregeous® ball under your upper back, between the shoulder blades. Lay on the floor, knees bent, feet touching the ground. Interlace your hands to support your head.
Breathe while feeling your ribs expand on the inhale and release on the exhale in all directions for one or two minutes. Next, slide up and down on the ball a few times, by pushing into your legs and feet.
Then, try sliding sideways across the ball.
Here’s one more that I love! Inhale and gently arch your back, exhale and do a mini abdominal crunch.
Now remove the ball and again, simply rest on the floor, sensing what has changed.
To finish, stand up and practice your upright posture once again. Is it easier to “stand up straight” now?
I hope that these practices will help you free up all those tight tissues, breathe better and put you on the path to better posture for a lifetime!
Shop this post: To practice the back mobility exercises get the Coregeous® ball.
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