You’ve been told many times that you have to stand up straight, but do you really understand what that means? Few people can “stand up straight” even when they want to. So why not get started today? To stand up straight, for a physiotherapist, means “to stretch out the spine”. It is important not to try to have your back completely flat but simply to straighten yourself up while keeping your natural curves.
Get equipped with a posture corrector bra
A posture corrector bra is a great way to achieve this with minimal effort. It will distribute the weight from the bust evenly, removing the tension in the neck and shoulders, and allowing your back to assume a physiological position. Many women underestimate the importance of wearing a well-fitted bra, and even fewer realize that this piece of underwear can be a powerful tool for spine elongation.
How do you pick the right model of a corrector bra? The rule of thumb here is to go with the right measurements for the circumference and cups, as you would with your regular undergarment. But here special attention should be paid to the construction of the bra: wide straps and under cup details are of the essence, but the backside is the determining factor. It should be wide, robust (but breathable) and feel nice to touch.
Posture corrector bras are not all that new, although the recent researches on back health yielded better insight into how to construct them better. Think back to the belle époque era, when corsets performed multiple functions, and that of a back corrector, inter alia. Today, any woman can tap into that gracefulness, rendering her figure this aristocratic posture that turns heads.
Know your back anatomy
Your spine is made up of vertebrae: lumbar at the bottom (lower back), dorsal in the middle (back), and cervical at the top (neck). The spine has 3 curvatures:
- hollow (lordosis) in the lumbar (and not flat, contrary to what many still believe: we are naturally arched!);
- rounded (kyphosis) dorsally;
- dug in, in the cervical region.
At the bottom of the spine is the sacrum then the coccyx (in the middle of the buttocks). At the top, we find the skull. To stand up straight is quite simply to keep the sacrum as far away from the skull as possible.
Ditch the strained back straightening
Our first instinct is to straighten our skeletal structure, but this is done by muscle contractures in the middle of the back. Besides, this effort usually does not last long and we capitulate, letting everything go. And here we are again at the starting point.
Our second instinct is to pull the shoulders back. Again, with contractures that generate a point between the shoulder blades. Not very comfortable, is it? By performing both maneuvers, you get your back is almost completely frozen in the name of good posture. And we bet you hardly dare to breathe for the fear of deviating from that coveted verticality. At this point, standing with your back straight seems like a utopia.
But then, if these actions are wrong, how do you go about it? Our one-word answer to this is: stretch your spine. What does stretching have to do with that?
Have you ever tried to straighten a bend in a wire? The first reflex is to bend it the other way. This is exactly what you are doing if you correct your posture by straightening up using your back as described above. And the result is no more satisfying than with metallic wire. So this is not the solution to getting a straight back.
Here’s how to do it. To straighten the column, it must be stretched in both directions simultaneously:
1) The head goes up
Direct the head upwards by stretching the neck, a bit like a turtle which sticks its head out of its shell; the rib cage acts as a carapace. This action repositions the shoulders and relaxes the trapezius and muscles between the shoulder blades.
2) The tailbone goes downwards
Done well, this maneuver activates the abdominals while decompressing the lumbar region. Thus, with a single maneuver, several postural problems are resolved, not to mention the relief of chronic pain that is often associated with it.
Don’t slack when sitting!
The above technique for standing upright is easy to understand and apply: it is often during sitting that we do not keep a straight posture. Therefore, you should really focus on keeping your spine stretched and leaning against the backrest, especially when your attention spans elsewhere and you find yourself sliding back into the hunched position over your smartphone.
- At the buttocks level: sit on the front of the buttocks so arch your lower back a little. Then push your buttocks down, toward the floor.
- Head level: tuck your chin in a bit then push the highest point of your head upwards (as if you were pulling your head up by the hair or if you had to carry a weight on your head).
In short, you are stretching your spine again: the bottom to the bottom and the top to the top. In fact, it amounts to activating (without knowing it) all your deep muscles to fight against gravity.
Don’t remain seated for too long
Note: Humans are not made to sit very long, whether at work, at school, or at home. Alas, many of us spend hours on end glued to monitors, moving only to assume a less physiological position in the armchair. Challenge this habit in the name of good posture and back health! You have to get up and move a little every 45 minutes, otherwise, you greatly increase your chances of developing back pathologies.
At first, it can seem tiring. And it’s more than an impression: your deep muscles get used to working again and therefore become more enduring. Start by standing up straight for a few minutes. Little by little, you will manage to last longer and longer without forcing it. It will have become natural for you; your deep muscles will have gained endurance!
Exercise your back muscles
The stronger the muscle corset, the easier it is to maintain a good posture. In essence, every set of exercises focusing on the back muscles serves this purpose. Tread carefully though if you already have known pathologies of the spine; in this case, you will also benefit from light physical activity, but it needs to be rehabilitative and coordinated by your medical specialist.
Do not forget to wear a postural corrector bra during physical activity. This will relieve your back, neck and shoulders from undue strain, and protect your bust from sagging and injuries.
Acquire healthier sleeping habits
Generally, people sleep on their side or on their back, but sleeping on their stomach is the position to avoid. However, the best way to sleep is when your body is under the least strain. Improper posture can lead to muscle fatigue, night apnea, back pain and neck pain, cramps, heartburn, etc.
The absolute best sleeping position is to sleep on your back. When you sleep on your back, it is easier to get a neutral position for the head, neck and spine. This is a good sleeping position also to prevent back problems because you do not bend your spine like you do when sleeping on the side or, worse still, your stomach.
Do not forget that the mattress and the pillow need to be picked with care, too, since their quality is of make-it-or-break-it nature for your spine health. Memory foam bedding made of science-approved foam that “remembers” your body shape is the best choice of the day, according to orthopedists and sleep hygienists.