Practice These Healthy Habits To Improve Your Posture
10 August 2020 | Giovanna Maselli
Maintaining good posture is an important aspect of our health, whether you are working or simply lounging at home. The struggle to sit up straight is not lost on us yet becoming aware of the benefits and how to do this helps drastically. Improving posture is especially helpful for those who often experience aches and pains in their shoulders, neck, or lower back as well as those who feel general stiffness in their body at the end of the day.
OneSpaWorld Fitness Operations Director Byron Blackwood shared a few tips on how to improve your posture, whether sitting or standing, through three key areas – awareness, alignment and activity.
PRACTICE POSTURE AWARENESS
Blackwood suggests checking in throughout the day and correcting your posture. Make sure your feet are solid to the ground, your body is straight, your shoulders are held back, and your chin is held straight towards the body, as opposed to leaning forward.
“Often, what happens is, if we have laptop screens or phones, we become very forward in our body positioning, so correcting this can be quite helpful,” said Blackwood.
For those who may not remember to check-in, a great reminder is by noticing the posture of those around you, which serves as a cue to check your own.
ALIGN YOUR BODY THROUGH BALANCE, SUPPORT
The key to aligning your body is focusing on balancing and support. An important step is starting with the feet – the foundation of the body.
“Strong and straight are two keywords to remember when it comes to correcting our posture,” said Blackwood while discussing the optimal positioning of your feet. “Also, keep the knees and hips aligned and everything else should follow suit, so everything becomes nicely stacked on top of one another to create that healthy alignment.”
The idea is to create that much-needed balance through proper positioning of the body, whether you are sitting or standing.
While working, Blackwood suggests positioning your keyboard in a way that allows your elbows to remain at an angle of 90 degrees while your screen should remain at eye-level. This simple change will help keep your body well-positioned throughout the day, creates proper alignment within the body, and prevents unhealthy posture.
The second aspect in alignment is support through proper footwear and simple items like a pillow or cushion while you are sitting or a cushioned mat to absorb some of the pressure that may come from standing on a solid surface.
When in doubt about your positioning, Byron suggests, “Think strong. Think nice and straight.”
PRACTICE ACTIVITIES THAT RELAX, RETRACT
When it comes to activity, the main focus should be on releasing and retracting your body’s muscles. Focus on relaxing the body through stretching while sitting down, laying down, or standing. As for the preferred form of stretching, opt for a style that makes you feel comfortable.
“Helping release within the body is the first thing that helps promote that healthy posture,” said Blackwood. “Sometimes we may found ourselves, especially if we spend a lot of time on our phones, laptops, and screens, that we become very forward dominant and our posture can start to slump, so stretching is a beneficial way to improve this.”
When it comes to retraction, focus on movements that strengthen the posterior chain and back muscles through the use of tension bands. Use a non-looped band and position it on a chair or doorway. Then, use your arms to pull the bands towards you, keeping your body strong and straight while pulling your shoulders back.
USE THE POWER OF THE PILLOW
The power of a properly placed pillow can do wonders for improving your posture. Blackwood suggests keeping one on hand at your desk and having an extra pillow while in bed.
“If you’re a side sleeper, place the pillow between your knees. What happens is, when you put the pillow between your knees, it helps create a separation, releasing any tension that you may have within the hips. It also helps release the glutes and lower back,” said Byron.
For those who sleep on their back, place a pillow underneath your knees so it acts as a bolster that can help release tension in the lower back and creates a natural positioning of the spine.
From the bedroom to the office, while sitting at your desk, try sitting on a pillow or cushion to relieve tension or tightness in your glutes. If your lower back is the issue, try placing a firm pillow behind your lower back.
“A pillow is a great prop in helping to support your posture and reducing any muscle aches and pains that may come from being in any position,” said Blackwood.
Backwood shared his posture management tips during a virtual discussion with Holland America Line Brand Ambassador Seth Wayne, in an effort to bring a bit of the Greenhouse Spa & Salon to guests around the world. You can view the full video below.