I spent most of my life completely disregarding my posture. That is, until one day I saw myself on camera crossing a stage. As a musician, I often perform on stages and occasionally see video footage of performances. One of the first times I witnessed myself on camera setting down my guitar, then exiting the stage, I was aghast at what I saw. I was slightly leaned forward into my stride, head down, and shoulders rolled forward. As my friend and I reviewed the video together, I said, “I look like Sasquatch!” While we both had a good laugh, my overarching thought was that it troubled me, and I wanted to make improvements. My poor posture LOOKED terrible, it wasn’t feminine, and I appeared to lack confidence. I also had to acknowledge that it could not have been good for my health or physical fitness.
What are the benefits of straightening your spine?
The idea of straightening your spine relates to posture. Aesthetically, poor posture can make you appear sloppy, but experts say that more than 80 percent of Americans suffer from back problems and bad posture is hugely to blame. So, not only does bad posture affect how you present yourself aesthetically, but it can also adversely affect your health.
Good Posture Makes You Look Younger
It has been said that good posture makes you look younger, thinner, and taller! The simple act of practicing better posture means that other people will see you as more energetic and relaxed. Having good posture has an instant anti-aging effect.
Here are some simple ways to improve your posture when standing:
- Stand up straight and tall.
- Keep your shoulders back.
- Pull your stomach in.
- Put your weight mostly on the balls of your feet.
- Keep your head level.
- Let your arms hang down naturally by your sides.
- Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.
Poor posture can cause permanent damage.
The complications of poor posture include:
- Back pain
- Neck pain
- Spinal dysfunction
- Joint degeneration
- Rounded shoulders
These are just some of the signs and symptoms of poor posture. You may also notice that your poor posture leads to tension, impaired lung function, or the inability to take a deep breath. You may also experience poor circulation, poor digestion, constricted nerves, a misaligned spine, or a curvature of the spine. Not all these issues are caused by degenerative disease or genetics but rather can be largely influenced by posture.
The good news is that because our posture has such an influence on our health, we can work to correct the problem and experience healing results! We’ve already reviewed some simple ways to immediately improve your posture (and appear younger) while standing, but what are some exercises that you can do to improve your posture and straighten your spine?
Exercises To Straighten Your Spine
Your spine may be distorted or damaged due to habits from improper sitting, standing, or slouching. Most spine problems are fixable, and you can straighten your spine naturally at home.
1. Standing against a wall
The first, and simplest exercise for straightening your spine, is standing against a wall. Here’s how to do it:
- Stand with your head and shoulders pressed firmly against the wall behind you
- Place your feet approximately 7-8 inches in front of you
- Push your lower back towards the wall and hold this position for a few seconds
- Take a few deep breaths and breathe out as you relax
This stance, up against a wall, helps you check your posture. You should have less than 2 inches between the wall and your neck and back area.
2. Wall Angels
Wall angels activate postural muscles in your upper back that help keep your shoulders pulled back. They also work to lengthen and strengthen your chest, spinal, and trunk muscles. Also, your core muscles must work to stabilize your trunk, keeping you in a neutral position.
How To Do Wall Angels:
- Stand against the wall and walk your feet out as much as you need to
- Keep your lower back flush against the wall
- Make sure that your head is also against the wall
- Tuck your chin
- Place both arms up against the wall at 90 degrees with fingertips touching the wall.
- Push arms slowly in an upward motion while keeping them flush against the wall
- Hold arms in the upward position for 2-3 seconds
- Take a deep breath in
- Maintaining your position with arms and fingertips against the wall, slowly slide your arms back down to the starting position.
You can adjust the angles as necessary if anything feels uncomfortable. If it’s uncomfortable to go straight up, you can move your arms upward at more of a 45-degree angle.
3. Lying Leg Raises
You want to maintain the natural curves of your spine for proper alignment. However, if you have excessive curvature in the lower back, it can create lower back pain. To help alleviate lower back pain and improve posture, we want to build strength around the abdominal wall that wraps around the body like a corset, compressing the spine and stabilizing the pelvis.
How To Do Lying Leg Raises:
- Lie on your back, legs straight together
- Keep your legs straight and lift them all the way to the ceiling until your butt comes off the floor
- Slowly lower your legs back down until they’re just above the floor. Hold for a moment
- Raise your legs back up
If you find that this exercise is too difficult to do while keeping your legs straight, or that you’re experiencing pain, follow the steps above but instead use a bend at the knees.
While there is an entire arsenal of exercises that you can do to help straighten your spine and improve your posture, these are three simple ones that can be easily incorporated into your day and can be done anywhere!
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