First impressions are always important, but at a job interview or in the dating world, they become critical. The other night I went on a blind date and my first impression of my set up—with his snug, sequined shirt, perfectly coiffed hair and wink of the eye—told me he was pretty self-absorbed and, quite frankly, just gross. Although initial impressions don’t always hold true, when he ended up talking about himself the whole night and didn’t ask any questions about me, my gut feeling turned out to be correct. I did take note, however, that he had great poise and that his good posture made him seem confident. Delusional, but confident.
While on the date, out of the corner of my eye, this woman in a killer dark blue dress passed by. The dress was so beautiful, I had to take a second look. I completely turned my head away from my date who was talking about blah-blah-blah. But I was quickly disappointed when I noticed the girl wearing the dress walked as though she had been sitting at a computer for 10 hours. Her shoulders were rolled forward and her head was hunched over as though she had a huge weight on the back of her skull. As beautiful as the dress was, she wasn’t doing it any justice, and more importantly, her poor posture wasn’t doing her any justice!
So for the rest of my date, I got to thinking about the significance of posture. Obviously, I was a bit bored and Mr. Sequin Shirt wouldn’t stop talking about himself.
Like my date, good posture can send a positive first impression to the world. Poor posture, however, gives off the impression that someone may be closed off, or that they don’t deem themselves worthy of good things. Imagine giving that impression on a dream job interview! Studies have shown that an upright spine, open chest, and eye contact give off the vibe of power, self-confidence, attractiveness and, yes, intelligence. The brain picks up messages from the body, and if the chest is open, with the spine erect, the viewer’s brain reacts positively. On the other end, if the shoulders are slouched and head is down, the person looking at you gets the opposite signal. Good posture also creates the illusion that a person is taller and slimmer. Who wouldn’t want that, right?
Poor posture can also contribute to digestion problems, back pain, back aches and poor blood circulation. But with proper posture, your muscles work properly to keep bones and joints in proper alignment. It decreases the risk of strains, arthritis and prevents fatigue since the muscles are being used more efficiently. Lastly, it prevents the risk of irregular breathing patterns that can cause anxiety.
So do yourself a favor. If right now, you are slouched over your computer reading this article, then follow this guide to bring yourself back to an upright position and discover a more confident and vibrant you!
What is your IDEAL POSTURE?
Ideally your spine should look like the letter “S,” where your ears, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles are all in one line with 3 natural curves of the spine. When standing against a wall, your head, back of your shoulders, backside, and heels should touch the wall. You will notice there are natural curves between the neck and the lower back.
HOW TO PREVENT POOR POSTURE:
The first step is to recognize that you have poor posture. When sitting, does your back look like the letter “C”? When driving, are your shoulders rolled forward and head tilted? Are you leaning into your right side with your left leg up on the seat? Only through conscious awareness can you change your body. However, it takes everyday determination and discipline to correct and improve your posture. So stay on it! Over time, you will feel the difference.
For many of us, this is extremely hard to do. But sleeping on your back with a pillow underneath your knees helps to keep the spine in proper alignment. If you must sleep on your side, make sure not to pull your knees all the way into your chest. You should have a slight bend of the knees, and place a pillow in between your knees. Always make sure to have a pillow underneath your head so that it is in the same alignment as your neck. Try to avoid sleeping on your stomach as it can aggravate both the neck and back.
Making eye contact with a person helps to keep your head up and shoulders back. It’s also great practice for improving self confidence! You deserve to be heard, so focus on the person you’re speaking to.
At the computer, make sure to sit at the back of the chair so that your backside is touching. Make sure both feet are placed on the floor. Do not cross your legs. Pull your shoulders back and down and make sure your ears are right over your shoulders. Try to avoid sitting for more than 30 minutes. Every half hour, get up, walk around, and then return back to your chair.
When standing, try to keep your weight evenly distributed on both feet, with the weight more on the front of your foot, instead of on the heels. Also try to keep your shoulders back and down and ears over your shoulders. Try to engage your lower abdominals and feel them pull in and up as though they are zippering up your spine.
Most people hinge forward with their legs locked straight when reaching for a heavy object. The best approach is to bend deeply as though you are in a squat position. Keep your chest upright and bend down so much that you can pick up the object using the power of your legs to lift, instead of your back. Always remember to keep your abdominals engaged.
If you are weak in your abdominals or tight throughout your body, improving your strength and increasing flexibility can help improve posture and relieve back pain.
Watch this video to learn some exercises!
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness