Have you got smartphone slouch? Do you spend too much time a day hunched over a desk? Have you recently had a baby, or do you carry your small child on your hip? So many amazing changes take place in your body during pregnancy but they can take their toll on your strength and control.
Studies have shown that 70% of British people experience lower back pain at some point. If you do spend hours slouching over your tablet, smartphone, or laptop you are at an increased risk of back pain and at the very least at risk of developing poor posture, which makes you look heavier and gives your stomach a rounded appearance. In order to protect your back, you need to increase your resistance work and abdominal strength and learn correct posture.
““I used to experience a lot of lower back pain but the exercises and stretches in Breaking Ballet have improved my core strength so that my back is stronger and rarely painful.”
Our mothers were right: we need to stand up straight! There are so many benefits to practicing good posture and they extend far beyond how much better you look in the mirror. Good posture can lift your confidence, give you an energy boost, reduce stress and optimises your breathing.
So if you want to take advantage of these benefits, follow these 5 easy steps to improve your posture:
Stand up straight
How are you standing right now? A common standing position is throwing the pelvis forward, arching your back and leaning back from the waist. This will cause the legs to tighten and the shoulders to hunch forward. Sound familiar? Try standing tall and lifting up out of your hips as though someone is pulling a string attached to the top of your head towards the sky. Feel your back lengthening and imagine your vertebrae as a string of pearls hanging down from the string. Maintaining and being mindful of this better posture will help keep your back strong, reducing back pain and keep you looking as graceful as Audrey Hepburn! Seriously, Hepburn had many years training in a professional ballet school and this training showed in her poise and grace on stage and behind the camera.
We all know the benefits of physical exercise and a ballet fitness class is one that requires specific attention to posture. With time and practice you will become more body aware and not only improve the way you feel but the way you look.
Strengthening your core muscles will help you stand taller. However, you have to be very careful about the type of exercises you do after having children, especially the type and intensity of abdominal exercises due to the changes in the abdominal wall and pelvis, as sometimes during pregnancy there is a separation of the Linea Alba (the central line between the Rectus Abdominis muscles). Any strengthening of the core should initially focus on correctly engaging the deep abdominals, pelvic floor and deep back muscles, and building endurance in daily activities.
Stretch, stretch and stretch again. Either treat yourself to a regular massage (if you can find the time), attend a tension release class, or invest in a foam roller. The roller takes the stress out of overused muscles, strengthens complementary muscles and helps release knots and tenderness.
If you find yourself slumped over a desk at the computer, or slouching on the sofa watching the television, don’t let technology take over. The spine is under much more stress when sitting than when standing, especially if you are slumping or sinking down into your hips. Sitting in a balanced and poised way will put much less stress on the body. Your spine should be in contact with the backrest from your tailbone right up to your upper back. Try placing a wedge shaped cushion behind your lower back so you are less likely to slope your body backwards.
By staying active and being mindful of your form, you can convince your body that it is years younger – and your appearance will follow suit.