Holding your shoulders back and stomach in may help you look your best for a photo, but – let’s be honest – not many of us can last more than a few seconds before we slump back down again. But this constant hunching forces the lower back to curve excessively, and pushes the stomach outwards, making you look much bigger than you are.
Years of heavy handbags, bending over smartphones and wearing high heels have added to the problem.
But there is good news – it’s never too late to change your posture. Short-term tweaks can help you look slimmer in that LBD, while a long-term investment will help you age well (and develop less back pain and future problems), and can improve digestion, boost circulation and reduce anxiety. Sound good?
Not sure on the best stance? “Always start with your feet when you want to shift your posture,” says osteopath Monica Franke. She recommends checking your alignment a couple of times a day until it becomes your new normal. Monica says:
1. Take three long, slow breaths with feet contacting the ground – aim for 50% of the weight in the heel, 30% around the big toe and mid foot, and 20% to the outer two toes.
2. Let the knees soften and allow the back of your pelvis to gently lengthen down.
3. Breathe softly into the space between your shoulder blades. Breathe out, allowing the lower ribs to come together and back. Your shoulders will naturally soften into the back of the rib cage, which is where we want them, not up in your ears.
Sort your couch
Slouching on a comfy chair may seem tempting after a hard day, but it could be doing you damage. “It may create strain on the ligaments, which could lead to pain or instability,” says physiotherapist Dr Amy Hoover. “However, you cannot be expected to sit up straight for long periods of time, so a lumbar pillow can help.”
What happens during menopause?
“Biologically speaking, it’s natural to undergo postural changes,” says physiotherapist Chongsu Lee. “Bone becomes less dense and smaller in size after menopause, plus muscles lose their strength.”
HRT may help boost bones, but easy lifestyle changes can make a big difference.
“Most effective is regular exercise, such as swimming, Pilates and yoga, as they improve the function of joints and muscles,” says Chongsu. “A healthy diet, including vitamin D and plenty of water, is also vital.”
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