Posture and Alignment Exercises

Begin Standing.  Stand with your feet and legs directly under your hips.  Your legs and feet are parallel, and your knees are pointing forward, straight but not locked.

Balance Your Weight.  Adjust your body so that your weight feels like it is falling directly through the middle of the foot.  You should feel equal pressure of your weight between the big toes, the littles toes and your heels.

Engage Your Core Muscles. Lightly pull your abdominal muscles in and up.  As you do so, you engage the pelvic floor as well.

Drop the Tailbone.  Activating your core will allow you to drop your tailbone directly down toward the floor.  This is a “neutral spine” position, where the natural curves of the spine are present without tucking or hyper-extending (sway back) the pelvis.  If you do have  slight sway to your lower back, be sure to engage your lower abdominals and slightly tuck the pelvis, or tilt the pelvic bone forward.  This works just the oppositve if you have a flat back and/or a posterior tilt to your pelvis.

Relax and Open Your Chest. The chest is not caved in and not thrust out, just resting easily.  There is a small point at the bottom of your sternum, and that, like the tailbonoe, should be pointing straight down.  In a sway back posture, however, the rib care will most likely protrudes forward.  In this situation, you need to pull the ribs towards one another and slightly tuck the pelvis, redirecting the tail bone to pointing down towards the floor.  Over time, with core strengthening, posture alignment exercises and body awareness, a sway back individual will see drastic improvement with reference to lower back pain and posture.

Shoulders Down, Broad Back. Allow your chest to drop and open as your back expands.  As this happens, your shoulders drop away from your ears and your shoulder blades slide down your back (i.e. like pinching the grape, but with engagement through your abdominals so that your ribs don’t protrude forward).  You are cultivating a posture whereby your core is holding you up, not your shoulders!

Head and Neck.  The head and neck are now completely supported by the core and easily supported above the shoulders.  Stand sideways to a mirror and drop your gaze downward.  Out of your peripheral vision, you will notice that your head shift slightly forward of the spine.  The same goes with lifting your gaze upwards to the sky, the neck extends and the head will tilt upwards as well as the chin.  Your gaze should be straight forward as this keeps the head in line with the spine and the neck muscles from overworking.

Let’s Review the Line Up.  If you were seen from the side, your body part should line up like this:

                         ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, ears

I suggest going through this posture checklist as many times as you can during the day.  It is an especially good exercise to do once you are warmed up, or even after a workout, when your awareness is heightened and core well engaged.

May 2, 2010 · Monica Dawson · Comments Closed
Posted in: Injury Prevention