How to deal with chronic hip pain image Top 5 posture myths

4 exercises to improve posture

In this video you can see a short talk I gave to the London YES Group in 2015.  We only had fifteen minutes in total so I started off with a very quick and somewhat oversimplified introduction into what having good posture means, some ways to feel how in or out of balance your body is, and four exercises you can do to start to improve your posture.

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What does having good posture mean?

As I mention in the video, when I first meet someone say at a party and they ask me what I do, my reply is to say “I’m a posture correction specialist”, and almost always they will smile and consciously try to straighten up and stand taller. Why does almost everyone do this? It’s because of the prevalent myth that good posture is all about consciously trying to force your body into a better position, that you have to think your way to better body alignment. This is a well-meaning but lousy approach, because within a short time you’ll get distracted by something else and return subconsciously to your normal posture. Furthermore, for many people it can feel uncomfortable and painful, and how do you know you’re actually in a better position for your body anyway? Plus you don’t spend your life just sitting or standing still. Your body is designed to move and so good posture is about your body being in balance in everything you do from bending down to pick up a pen, to walking, to dancing, and of course to sitting and standing still.

So how can you improve you posture?

Well ultimately it’s your brain that controls your posture but it does this via your muscles. If your muscles are working efficiently and are in balance from left to right, and from front to back, then they will hold your body in good alignment. Nowadays I don’t think we give our bodies the work they need from a very young age, as we sit for so long behind a desk at school, and later as adults, combined with stresses and injuries in life, that our muscles can become less efficient and unbalanced, resulting in postural misalignments. The way to improve this is to get those muscles more balanced by doing specific posture correction exercises which stretch, strengthen and wake up certain parts of your body, so that your alignment is better without you even having to consciously think about it! In the video I show four general exercises to start this process. Remember, it’s not the whole solution, but in many cases a good start.

If you decide to try these exercises at home, please make sure that none of them cause you any pain. If one does, then just skip it and move onto the next one. If you feel like all of them are a little too tough, or you’re in too much pain that none of feel suitable, then please don’t think that there’s no way to improve your posture. There literally are hundreds and hundreds of posture correction exercises, all with differing levels of intensity, and there will be some you can do more comfortably. I’ve worked with many clients who struggle to walk and who can’t get down on to the floor, and so far I’ve always managed to give them some exercises to help them get started.

One thing I recommend before doing these exercises is listening to where your body is at. To do this, simply stand still and ask yourself the following questions. Does the weight feel equal left to right, and front to back in your feet? How does your posture feel? Do you have any tension or pain in your body?  Then try these four exercises and afterwards stand still again and ask yourself those same questions. The majority of people I’ve given these exercises to have noticed a positive difference.

Take care.

Ameet Bhakta BSc, DipHE
I’m a posture correction specialist based in London, certified by the Egoscue Institute and founder of Health Through Posture.

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