Good posture offers benefits that go beyond a properly curved spine. When one slouches and doesn’t maintain proper posture, muscles and ligaments work much harder to keep one up and balanced. This extra work by the muscles can lead to myalgia, lumbar pain, headaches, and an increased likelihood for injury. Maintaining proper posture is therefore a preventative measure against various forms of pain. In general, exercises that strengthen core muscles promote good posture.
The Wall Test
Professionals at the Mayo Clinic recommend doing “The Wall Test” in order to figure out how much one’s back deviates from the proper configuration.
In order to perform this test, one must stand with head, shoulder blades, and butt touching the wall and have one’s heels about 2 to 4 inches from the wall.
At this point, reach back and slide your hand between the curve of the your lower back and the wall (lumbar spine), with palm flat against the wall. This is the ideal distance that you want between the lumbar spine and the wall. If the cu
rvature of your lumbar spine is too far off, straighten or arch your back to correct your posture. Then walk away from the wall maintaining while that posture.
This test is to help individuals get a general sense of their posture.
Good posture offers benefits that go beyond a properly curved spine
Exercises to Better Posture
Here are three exercises that promote proper posture:
1. Pilates Swimming:
As the name lets us know, this is a pilates exercise and is very effective in helping maintain good posture. To do this exercise get a yoga mat on which you can lay on and get familiar with the pilates “rest position” (sitting on your heels). From rest position move on to lay on your stomach with legs extended behind you and arms extended in front of you. Lift arms, chest, head and legs off the ground as to make your body resemble the shape of a U. At this point, start fluttering arms and legs up and down resembling swimming motions. Inhale for 4 quick seconds, then exhale for 4 quick seconds, stop and hold the U position for a few more seconds before relaxing. Once relaxed return to rest position and prepare for the next round. Pilates swimming can be quite difficult to execute depending on one’s fitness level. Try to do 5, if that is too difficult then start at 3 before advancing to higher numbers. Increments of 5 are recommended.
This is a very cool kung-fu move that is both fun and challenging. Start by stan
ding straight with feet pointing forward and shoulder-width apart. Make back is straight before starting the exercise. Bend the knees and lower the upper body as if sitting on a horse (hips should be loose), make sure that the knees are for forward or outward over the toes. Hold arms outward with palms parallel to your body. You have achieved the horse stance.
3. Seated Twist:
The seated twist is a move from yoga that many are quite familiar with. Start by setting down a yoga mat or by finding a surface in which you would be comfortable lying on. Sit flat on the mat with legs point forward and maintaining a straight back. Place the right foot on the outside of the left knee so that the right knee is pointing straight up. Place the right hand behind your back, putting the left elbow against the outside of the right knee. Turn to face the right while slowly rotating both shoulders and head, look back as much as possible. Hold this position for five deep breaths and then switch to the other leg and side.
- “Seated Spinal Twist Pose.” Seated Spinal Twist Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana – MSN Health & Fitness. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. <https://www.msn.com/en-us/health/exercise/yoga/seated-spinal-twist-pose/ss-BBtOq0L>.
- WikiHow. “How to Do the Horse Stance in Kung Fu.” WikiHow. WikiHow, 29 Mar. 2017. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. <http://www.wikihow.com/Do-the-Horse-Stance-in-Kung-Fu>
- Howcast. “How to Do Swimming | Pilates Workout.” YouTube. YouTube, 24 Apr. 2012. Web. 29 Mar. 2017. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bY6ZyiO_7ek>
- “Slide Show: Prevent Back Pain with Good Posture.” Mayo Clinic. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/multimedia/back-pain/sls-20076817>.