What’s the first thing you want to do when you get out of a long car or airplane ride?
I don’t know about you, but I want to stretch and walk around, because sitting down like that is exhausting. Between driving, texting, working from the computer, and catching up on TV shows, it’s crazy that we sit for so long during our waking hours without a break. Over time, sitting down can hunch your posture and put unnecessary stress on your knees, back, and neck.
On the other hand, maintaining good posture will make your movements more efficient, so you’ll find basic movements like walking and picking things up far easier to do. We can improve our posture by stretching out the “texting muscles” of your chest, shoulders, and upper back, and restoring ROM to our lower body by practicing good squat form.
Channel your inner Beyoncé for better posture and confidence.
University studies have shown that assuming more dominant postures for as little as two minutes at a time can boost your testosterone and make you more assertive, relaxed, and confident – so the old adage “fake it ‘til you make it” definitely applies.
If it helps, just think to yourself: how would Beyoncé stand? Hold your head high, pull your shoulders back, and lead with your heart. You are strong, capable, beautiful, and confident. You are Beyoncé.
If you’re sitting down, you can do some stretches from your office chair. The goal is to do reverse the negative effects of hunched posture by opening up your back, shoulders, and chest. Reach up and lean back slightly, floating your gaze towards the ceiling:
If you’d like a more intense stretch, you can also do shoulder openers with a broomstick or a towel like this:
Start with a very wide grip – wider than you think – and try to reach up and over. Notice how the woman in the video isn’t gripping the stick with a closed fist, but rather allowing it to glide between her pointer finger and thumb (making the “ok” sign with her hand). Don’t force anything; just try to stand tall and get a nice stretch in, even if you can’t move the broomstick all the way behind you.
Have you thought about squats?
The second half of posture is restoring ROM to your lower body, including your lower back, hips, knees, and ankles. You can become more mobile by working on being stable and comfortable in a deep squat, which is still the default mode of sitting in parts of Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America.
In a proper squat:
Your heels touch the ground.
Your back is relatively straight.
Your knees aren’t caving in/pointing toward each other.
Your knees don’t poke out past your toes.
Every healthy toddler is born with the ability to squat, but a lot of us have lost it due to an inflexible set of ankles, hamstrings, hips, and a tight lower back. Compare the following pictures to see what I mean:
Your goal is to spend a couple minutes a day in a squat. Squat down to pick up a pencil you dropped – which is what we mean by “lift with your legs and not your back.” Send a text, or watch TV from a squat. Move your chair away from your desk and squat in front of your computer. You aren’t trying to get a black belt in yoga or anything, just work towards being able to stand up without your knees crackling like Rice Crispies.
By the time you’re able to stand up from the floor without using your hands, you’ll have reached a nice level of mobility that will help protect your knees and back for years to come. It might take some time to be able to hold a squat position comfortably, and that’s perfectly fine – just try to look more like the lady on the left rather than the goober on the right (does he even lift?).
So there you have it – better posture will make you look and feel more confident, with the added benefits of making movement easier and protecting you from injury. Have a happy Monday: stand tall and tackle the rest of your day with some swagger!