Posture Hacks for Everyday Activities

Posture Hacks for Everyday Activities

posture hacks everyday activities

Why is moving through life with good posture so hard? Why are we so prone to schlumping on the couch?

Perhaps modern life is just too convenient. All of that comfort comes at the price of our posture.

But if posture really does affect emotions (and all science says YES!), then paying attention to how we carry out our everyday activities is worth some effort.

Here are a few of my favorite hacks for posture problems in everyday activities.

Posture Problems While Working

Check out your desk set up. When you sit at your desk, do your eyes look down at the keyboard? If so, you may be experiencing neck strain. Do your wrists break at the edge of your keyboard, or are they supported? Can you adjust the height of your desk?

Take a quick look at your desk chair. Does your chair encourage good posture or slouching? Does your chair allow you to sit comfortably without sacrificing alignment? Ideal ergonomics should allow for adjustable height and adjustable arms to help you work with your desk set up rather than against it. Posture isn’t just about the length of your spine. We need to consider how your body is working as a whole.

If you can’t splash out the cash for a fancy desk chair (even though they are totally worth it!), fix what you can to help you sit up straighter. Maybe it’s as simple as a lumbar support pillow. If you’re shorter than 5’3″, having a footrest under your desk takes pressure off the low back. You’ll be able to sit up taller and reap the benefits of a long spine– deeper breathing and a calmer, more thoughtful brain.

You may give some thought to a standing desk, too, if you find you’re a regular desk sloucher. But be warned that doesn’t solve your posture problems! You’ll need to tune in to how you hold your body and shift your weight while standing.

Posture Problems While Driving

Raise your hand if you spend a lot of time in your car.

(I’m raising my hand. You just can’t see me.)

Raise your hand if you have ideal posture while you’re driving.

(I’m not raising my hand. You’re not missing anything.)

You see, I have three kids in three different schools, and they’re each in about two million activities. I decided if I was going to be spending so much time driving, I’d better start paying attention to my posture.

And that’s when I learned this life-changing bit of information…

Take a look at the floor of your car by the driver’s seat. In addition to the brake and gas pedals (and clutch if you’re old school), you’ll see a bit of black rubber in the upper left corner. Do you know what that is?

That’s where your left foot goes!

No, really.

If you put your left foot there– and not tucked under your right leg or curled up on the seat with you– your pelvis is level. Your spine can sit tall. You are in the most balanced posture. Not only that, but your chest will lift rather than be slumped to one side. Doesn’t that sound ideal for an activity where your reaction time is everything?!

There’s another simple way to improve your posture while driving. Raise your rear-view mirror slightly. You’ll force yourself to sit up taller. It’s really as simple as that!

Making these two small changes will greatly improve your posture while driving.

Posture Problems While Doing Dishes

I know, I know. No one likes doing dishes.

(Except for my grandmother– she grew up during the Great Depression, and she always said dirty dishes meant she ate.)

But at the end of a long day, a sink full of dishes often induces some pretty poor posture. Even if all you’re doing is rinsing before putting dishes into the dishwasher (hallelujah!), I’m guessing there are a few posture problems that pop up.

First of all, notice where your shoulders are as you’re holding that heavy pasta pot in the sink. Most likely, your shoulders are up somewhere near your ears. If you can teach yourself to lift with your biceps (in your arms) rather than from your shoulders (and trapezius), you’ll be able to maintain better posture.

Pay attention to where your feet are relative to the sink. If you’re standing too far away from the sink– perhaps because you don’t want to be splashed– you’re likely putting undue pressure on your back. Even if you’re hinged at the hips, your shoulders are likely rounded far to the front. If you stand up nice and close to the sink, you’ll be able to work with a more open chest and reduce the pulling on the low back. And now you have a reason to wear that apron your mom sent you, too.

After you nail good posture in everyday activities, make sure you understand how good posture during exercise boosts benefits.

 

Does Posture Really Affect Emotions?

Does Posture Really Affect Emotions?

posture affects emotions

Stop schlumping! Stand up straight! Your mom wasn’t trying to nag you or make you look like a prom queen– she knew your posture affects emotion.

Erik Pepper is a psychologist at the University of San Francisco, and his work focuses on how emotions and thoughts affect energy levels and posture AND how energy levels and posture affect emotions and thoughts.

Our brains receive information from neurons all throughout our body. And the way we hold our body sends the brain particular messages. This is one reason why many people feel emotionally down after a day at work. All of that sitting (and slouching in front of the computer) is sending your brain a message of depressed energy.

Think about it: when you’re excited, your body automatically stands taller with your chin higher and facial muscles engaged. You have open eyes and a relaxed, smiling mouth. When you’re angry, though, the closed posture of crossed arms, slumped shoulders, and clenched jaw sends your brain a very different message.

Your posture embodies your emotions, but your emotions are also sending your brain a message, too. Your brain responds by releasing a hormone appropriate for the situation. That’s the neurological feedback loop at work.

Have you seen Harvard professor Amy Cuddy’s TED talk about Power Poses? In that 2012 presentation, Cuddy raised the idea that by taking particular postures, we can trigger the brain to release beneficial hormones. This concept changed the way people think about how posture affects emotion.

If you can hold your body in ways that actually make you feel more confident and assured, shouldn’t we be practicing that all the time? But like most things in life, our posture is habitually rooted. Changing it, even if we know the benefits of doing so, is hard work.

I think, though, that’s where the real power of Power Poses lies: they are used in specific, trigger events where we need to psyche ourselves up. If we can turn our attention to how our posture affects emotion in big situations, that will raise our awareness at other times as well.

To put it another way, the link between how posture affects emotion is a two way street. Emotion also affects posture. We can use this to our advantage!

The next time you’re feeling low– whether it’s mentally low or physically low– stand tall. Whether you choose to simply hold a power pose or go for a walk (or a skip!), you’ll be flipping the script your brain is writing.

This is not just exercise moving blood around the body to reinvigorate you. This is you taking control to send your brain a message.

And if you’re really feeling like embracing the spirit of how posture affects emotion, take a cue from our Friend Phoebe and let your body take the lead:

http://edzika.tumblr.com/post/60457397622

 

If you’re interested in posture, check out 3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits.

3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits

3 Ways Good Posture During Exercise Boosts Benefits

posture workout

Ensuring that you have good posture during exercise allows you to maximize the benefits of your workouts. It’s not just a matter of looking good!

There are three key reasons why you should always aim to maintain good posture during exercise.

  1. Proper alignment allows muscles to work most efficiently

Have you ever seen someone lifting with bad form? Of course you have!

And if you’re anything like me, you immediately straighten your own spine, roll your shoulders back, and lift your chest. In doing so, you’re improving your spinal alignment.

As your spinal alignment improves, your pelvis can sit in a more natural position. From there, your core muscles can engage to stabilize your body and allow your limbs to move in their optimal alignment.

Good posture during exercise means that not only can the working muscle be most efficient, but they’re working in concert with stabilizing muscles, too. When you get your whole body working together, that’s super-charged efficiency!

When muscles work efficiently and in concert with the whole kinetic chain, not only do you get stronger faster but your injury risk declines.

Bonus!

  1. Tall posture gives lungs most room to expand

Many popular forms of cardio exercise– such as running and cycling– also encourage a forward-leaning posture. When the lean happens from the hips and the spine stays tall, the lungs can expand fully.

Similarly, strength training– whether with machines or free weights– is best done with a tall spine so muscles can work optimally, as explained above.

But as you fatigue, slouching tends to set in. Slouching compromises lung capacity because there’s no room for the lungs to expand in the chest cavity.

Less oxygen leads to fatigue setting in faster. Keeping a tall spine allows you to breathe deeply. Fully oxygenating your muscles means you can complete your workout without depleting fatigue setting in.

  1. Paying attention to posture during exercise will raise awareness of movement patterns throughout the day

With spinal alignment now a focus of your attention while you’re working out, you’ll find that you are more aware of how you move even when you aren’t exercising.

Maybe you’ll think about how your shoulders tend to slide up to your ears when you’re washing dishes, and you’ll encourage them to slide back down your back.

Or perhaps when you’re lifting your child up and out of the grocery cart, you’ll first take a moment to get your feet underneath of you, bend your knees slightly, and exhale on exertion.

Good posture during exercise boosts benefits for your workout and beyond!

By setting the stage of working out from a posture that allows your muscles to work most efficiently, you’re on the way to improving your alignment all throughout the day. When you stand tall and take deep breaths, you flood your muscles with oxygen. Well-oxygenated muscles work for longer before fatiguing, both when exercising and in the Olympics of Everyday Life. And when you raise your awareness of how your body carriage affects your movement patterns while exercising, you’ll start to notice your posture at other times of day.

Just imagine how great you’ll feel then, when you’re always holding yourself optimally and breathing deeply. There will be no stopping you!

Running to Wellness: A Passion to Prosperity Podcast

Running to Wellness: A Passion to Prosperity Podcast

passion prosperity running wellness

I’m sure you’ve all heard the comparison of birthing a baby and birthing a business. Well, for me, those two life events are even more closely aligned.

It was my first pregnancy (in 2002) that set me down the path of reflection and research that would alter my life. That time period planted the seeds for what would become my business Balance Personal Fitness Training, my blog Running on Balance, and the online community I hostess as Well Balanced Women.

Never when I started my research into running and pregnancy did I think that it would be the gestation period for a decade-long career. I was just someone who knew what she was interested in– running– and experiencing the new world of pregnancy.

I also knew that I liked (like– still true in the present tense) to be informed.

And the rest, as they say, is history.

For the details of this twisted, bumpy ride into entrepreneurship that still is fueled by my passion, check out my interview with Paul T. Shafer. Paul is a the host of Passion to Prosperity, a podcast that features people who have used their passion to fuel prosperity in their life.

(Spoiler alert: Prosperity does not mean I make so much money I don’t know what to do with it.)

In my episode of Passion to Prosperity, Paul and I chat about how I still feel lucky– prosperous!– to live a life with my passion for helping people feel great in their bodies as part of my everyday.

This life of mine is all about running to wellness.

Check out Passion to Prosperity– Running to Wellness HERE!

Do you live a passion-fueled, prosperous life? Tell me about it in the comments.

 

 

 

Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

Running & Pregnancy: How to Be Well Balanced

 

pregnancy running

 

Running & pregnancy is a topic near and dear to my heart, as it was the time in my life when I was pregnant with my first child (in 2002!!) that the seeds for what is now Balance Personal Fitness Training were planted.

Once Balance blossomed, Running on Balance came to be. (It lived it’s first iteration as simply “on Balance”– the name change should indicate to you that a) running is important to me, and b) I like puns.)

A few years later, Well Balanced Women came into life. (Again with the puns.)

It’s all quite fitting, actually. Pregnancy and gestation of a human aren’t all that different from building a business.

They both start with knowing absolutely nothing, requiring tremendous faith, and then developing and changing over time.

So I was thrilled when the guys Chris & Steve from Rogue Running— a big-time running coaching outfit here in Austin– invited me to come on their podcast and talk about Running & Pregnancy.

Chis & Steve know running. They coach some of the best runners in the US. They help regular, recreational runners reach serious goals. Most of all, they want each person to know how running can contribute to a happy, healthy, well-balanced life.

And as someone who has run through three pregnancies (to varying degrees) and worked as a perinatal fitness specialist for nearly ten years, I have ideas that are a blend of experience and research to help women keep running while pregnant…and get back to running postpartum, too.

As you’ll hear in the podcast,  I learned (the hard way) that just because one pregnancy and recovery is super simple all of them will be.

This should be good news to those of you who have been through pregnancy and childbirth and are reluctantly contemplating a second….

The possibility of having a more positive experience exists!

I firmly believe (and science supports) the importance of exercise during pregnancy. The benefits for both mom and baby are notable and long-lasting.

As always, each woman’s experience of pregnancy is unique. Listen to your care provider, and listen to your body.

But I hope you’ll find some guidelines and things to look for as you work hard to keep you and your baby fit during pregnancy– and beyond.

Check out the episode HERE!

Let me know what you think in the comments!

Ideas offered on the Running Rogue podcast do not constitute medical advice. Each woman should speak frankly with her health care provider regarding her specific needs during pregnancy.