When teaching Pilates, I have been accused of sounding like a drill sergeant. That's what happens when you harp on people's posture day in and day out. Good posture is important for both looking and feeling your best. A frequently repeated "fact" is that standing up straight can make you look ten pounds lighter. Slumping adds not only odd stresses to the spine but can make a body appear heavier, not to mention shorter.
More than just looking long and lean, having good posture is important for the health of your bones and joints. Proper alignment decreases undue wear and tear on the soft tissues, ligaments and cartilage that surround and protect your joints, especially your spine. Plus, if you are slouching you are smooshing (yep, that is the technical term) all your internal organs. It is bad for digestion; your stomach and intestines need plenty of space.
Finding perfect posture is easy. First you want to think of balancing the bones on top of one another like a column starting with your feet on the floor, ending with your skull.
Here's a posture checklist:
1. Stand with your feet under your sits bones (yep those bones that you sit on that are the base of you pelvis). Your feet will only be about one or your own foot widths apart — not very wide. The weight on your feet should be balanced equally between the balls of your feet and your heels, as well as the inside and outside of your feet.
2. Align your pelvis over your feet. Your pelvis should be level. Think of the pelvis like a wide soup bowl and you don't want the soup to spill over the front or the back of the bowl.
3. Keep your ribcage directly over your pelvis. It is a common posture for the ribs to hang back behind the pelvis.
4. Next place your shoulders right over your ribs.
5. The skull should be right over your feet. Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders — don't thrust your head forward.
For the supreme alignment check-in, stand with your back against the wall (take off your shoes first and try to find a spot with no baseboard) and see how it feels to have your heels, booty, upper back and the back of your head all on the wall. It might feel extreme, but use that as a guide.
Fit's Tip: It really helps to just keep lengthening your spine up and out of your pelvis. One image that helps a lot of slouchers stand tall is to imagine that there is a golden string attached to the top of your head lifting and lengthening your spine.