“No man can tell me what to do with my body. Only women’s magazines can do that.”  -Mindy Kaling, The Mindy Project

There is plenty of pressure from the media and Instagram world to look thin (but also curvy!), confident and sexy. 

Also, in case you haven’t noticed, we’re living in the age of the butt! So many of rump-enhancing poses litter my Instagram feed. My lumbar spine cringes… yet I’m intrigued, curious, fascinated. How do I replicate this? 

Even more confusing, how do I reconcile wanting “good posture” that allows me to be strong, healthy, and pain-free, with the desire to look and feel attractive? Is it so bad to cast an apple-bottom silhouette from time to time?

There is confidence that comes with being able to move well–lift heavy boxes and nimbly jump over puddles. 

But can we acknowledge there is also confidence that comes with strutting into a room in an entirely impractical outfit, feeling like a million bucks? Maybe turning a head or two? 

This may involve less-than “perfect” posture and pretty, but poor, footwear at times.

The Difference Between “Common” and “Normal” 

There’s a lot of buzz in the fitness world about the difference between “common” and “normal.”

Regularly standing with a hip elevated and a sway in the lower back may be common, but is it healthy?

As one of my favorite teachers, Judith Lasater said, “Normal is not always healthy. Eating a Big Mac is normal, but it isn’t healthy.”  

Similarly, bunions, lumbar spine herniations, and hip pain may be common, but that doesn’t make them normal. 

Am I here to shame anyone for eating a Big Mac? Absolutely not! But I would love to help you return to a healthy balance if you choose to indulge in poses and postures that can be tough on your body.

So let’s chat about common postural pop culture pitfalls and how we can bounce back from them, pain-free. 

Regularly checking in with “anatomical neutral” can help you gauge the variety of ways you alter you posture

Common Postural Pitfalls and QuickFix Remedies

Let’s start with your feet.

On-screen, unless she’s wearing scrubs, women are usually wearing high heels. Heels are powerful, feminine, sexy, slimming…and ouch, uncomfortable. 

A shoe with a heel of just one inch can throw your body 20 degrees off-axis, that means instead of being upright you’re pitched forward at an angle… Or you would be if your body weren’t working its compensatory magic to keep you upright.  

“Would you want to drive a car with your wheels 20, 30, 40 degrees out of alignment?” Asks Katy Bowman in her book, Simple Steps to Foot Pain Relief, 

Knowing that heels have a slew of negative side-effects, you may feel obligated to toss them out. But those stilettos that pinch your toes and throw your body out of whack might come with an upside too. 

High heels could allow you to be eye-to-eye with a room full of male colleagues or feel more confident as you glide into that cocktail party your ex will be attending. Occasionally you may decide it benefits you to wear fancy footwear.  

So don’t run out and donate them all to Goodwill. Instead, wear your heels responsibly and in moderation.

Foot Pain Relief QuickFix

After a night of donning your flashy kicks, treat your feet to a foot rolling sequence using the Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls for myofascial self-massage, paired with a static calf stretch.  

Sole Roll Self-Massage Exercise

  1. Place an Original Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball under your foot.
  2. Rest your heel on the floor like a “reverse high heel.”
  3. Roll your ankle slowly right and left for a minute on each side. 

 

Calf Stretch Exercise

After rolling your foot, perform a simple calf stretch at the wall.

  1. Place your hands on the wall.
  2. Step one foot forward, the other back.
  3. Gently try to press your back heel toward the floor.
  4. Take several long, slow breaths.
  5. Repeat on the other side.

 

The Pains and Positives of “Tits Up”

Prior to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel stepping on stage, the comedienne and her manager share the mantra “Tits Up!” Try it and see what happens.

By lifting your chest do you look taller? More confident? Fuller in the bosom?  

Look a little closer. Did your ribs pop up too? 

This move may quickly create the illusion of “better posture” but often it comes at the cost of the ribs flaring. It stretches your abdominal muscles and scrunches your back muscles. 

Puffing your chest and taking up more space may provide a quick and easy confidence boost needed before a presentation or when crafting the perfect email to ask for a raise. But it’s not where we want to hang out all the time.  

Long term plan, let’s keep the ribs in and find our flare in other ways. In the meantime, here are my favorite corrective moves.

Low Back Pain Relief with Myofascial Self-Massage

When the ribs go up and out, the lower back gets shortened and tight.  

By releasing the quadratus lumborum–a strong muscle on each side of your lower back–you invite some length into the back muscles. 

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and place an Original Yoga Tune Up® therapy ball on the right side of your waist, just above your pelvis.  
  2. Hug the right knee in and add a movement that feels good, hugging, rocking, circling.
  3. After a couple of minutes repeat on the opposite side.

Core strengthener: Knee-to-Chest with Abdominal Contraction  

This is a core/hip flexor combo strengthener that helps to connect the upper body with the lower body. Strengthening the core muscles will help maintain the effect of our QL release above. 

  1. Lie on your back and hug your right knee in.  
  2. Inhale and as you exhale flex your spine, contract your abdominal muscles and bring your nose toward your knee.
  3. With each exhale contract a little more. Attempt to keep your spine and leg where it is as you release your hands and reach your fingers toward the bottom of your mat.
  4. Hold for a breath or two.
  5. Let go and repeat on the other side.

Final Thoughts on Staying Sustainably Fabulous

“Stand up straight, and realize who you are, that you tower over your circumstances.” Maya Angelou

In conclusion, you could consider certain postures an accessory–something you can put on and take off for occasions or photoshoots, like wearing a tie or heavy earrings.

It’s possible to get in and out of these “junk food” postures without getting stuck there or hurt by them.

It’s all about making a conscious choice, ie. “I’m wearing these shoes tonight because I feel confident in them and that is beneficial for me today.” Then, choosing to return to a nutritious movement and posture diet, ie. “I’m taking these heels off as soon as I get home, rolling my feet, and then stretching my calves.”  

Your movement, self-care & self-awareness practice can support all the things you do. From running, hiking, gardening and playing with kids, to striking a daring pose in the occasional-ill fitting attire. 

Now go forth and wow them!

 

Shop this post: For lower back and foot massage, get Original Yoga Tune UP Therapy Ball Pair or Therapy Ball PLUS Pair in Tote.

 

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Meredith is a yoga teacher and health coach living in Cincinnati, Ohio. Meredith works with yogis and movers of all ages, from three year olds in her PK classes, high school athletes, as well as adults and seniors. Off the mat Meredith can often be found on the tennis court - as an athlete she is passionate about improving performance, enhancing mobility, preventing injuries and quieting the monkey mind.

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Yang

I love the sole rolling self-massage and calf stretch exercises!

Daniel Zachrisson

I like how you separated it in feet, calves and lower back. The examples given for “corrective” exercises are pretty cool. For the feet, I like the rainbow motion on top of the ball bringing the inside and the outside edges of the foot down to the floor.
Awesome way of also depicting the effects of heels!

Dominique Lim

This is a great article illuminating the different between what looks good vs. what does us good!

Randy

Have been talking a lot about QL in recent classes and having students come to me with pain/discomfort in the QL and have to say this information is very useful. Thank you