There's more to good posture than sitting up straight. If you're serious about improving the way you hold yourself you'll need core strength, flexibility, and a fair amount of determination. The payoff? Sexy shoulders to be bared in a myriad of ways. These face-framing joints need strong posture and straight necks to look their best. "The muscles that support the rib cage are voluntary, which means you can control and train them to hold your rib cage in the right place," says movement therapist Sara Mulry.
So when your mom told you to stand up straight when you were younger, she was right! Research has shown that slumped posture has a direct negative impact on lung capacity, so it's worth your while to train good posture to get better breath. "People often come to me with shoulder, neck, and thorax pain related to their running, often the result of poor technique (not in their legs) but in their shoulders and upper back."
The motivational push of the season's scapula-baring dresses and tops look best worn with a confidently slung-back set of shoulders. Oh, and some seriously gorgeous skin. We're partial to Alchimie Forever's Firming Gel for Neck and Bust, 111SKIN Y Lift Neck and Decolletage Treatment Mask, and Living Libations Best Skin Ever Sea Buckthorn. Spick, span, and sparkling? Top marks to this potent triumvirate!
So you want to stand up straight and breathe better? "Let's talk about some simple ways you can achieve this," says Sara.
Simple exercises on the mat and using a TheraBand are perfect for improving posture. Try bent-over rows with high reps of about 15 to 20. Focus on good neck and rib cage alignment, and deep steady breathing during the movement. Posture holds lying on your stomach are hard work and, with the pressure of the floor against your chest, create some resistance, further training your postural and respiratory muscles.
Improve the flexibility of your spine
Keeping the joints around the rib cage and spine flexible makes it easier for your muscles to hold you in a good position. Simple rotation stretches of the thorax are like little injections of goodness into your joints. Try some gentle lumbar rotations.
The core muscles attach to the bottom of the rib cage, helping to stabilize it. Try functional core exercises that involve the upper body: mountain climbers. Focus on deep, steady breathing to really work those respiratory muscles.
"As with any new skill, achieving good posture takes time, practice, and even a good therapist. Poor breathing as a result of poor posture has far-reaching effects on mood, energy, and the neck and shoulders," says Sara. "The great news is simple exercises will go a long way toward improving everything from lung capacity to the way you look and feel when you're wearing clothes."
Off-the-shoulder or backless party dress to the ready. Oh, and a healthy and self-assured attitude, too.