Posture: Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself

Whether you’ve got a standing desk, a job that requires you to be on your feet all day or you only stand still on an elevator just to be polite, good alignment will help staying upright on your feet feel better on your body.

Read More: Coffee Before Yoga? Yes Please.

Staying upright with good posture doesn’t require a lot of effort. It’s actually more about capitalizing on your inner architecture so that your body structure isn’t working overtime. All it takes is a few seconds to think about where your body is in space. Then you can make a couple of simple adjustments.

I interviewed Brooke Thomas, a Rolfer and founder of the Liberated Body podcast, for her three best tips on which adjustments to make and why. Here they are:

1. Float Your Hips. Where are you feeling most of the weight fall in your feet? If it’s in the ball of the foot or the toes, your hips have likely drifted forward out in front of you. For your inner architecture to work the way it was designStanding_Straighted to do—so that your weight is supported by your bones instead of your muscles and tendons—you want your hips directly above your ankles. Meaning, you likely have to let your hips float backward.

“It will feel like your body weight is now more under your heels, and your leg muscles should relax,” Thomas says.

Bonus: Your pelvis will come to a more vertical alignment, meaning the contents of your abdomen won’t be spilling forward, meaning you’ll reduce the appearance of a pooch! And, you’ll enjoy better functioning of all your abdominal organs and the pelvic floor, meaning things like digestion and elimination will have better working conditions – and don’t you function better when you have improved working conditions?

Thomas would also like to add this advice for everyone out there who has been told by a yoga teacher to tuck your tailbone: “This is not at all about arching or tucking your pelvis to either exaggerate or flatten the curve of your lumbar spine. Let your lumbar spine do its natural thing (it has a natural curve that varies from person to person), and instead think about letting your pelvis come back over your ankles in one piece.”

2. Take a stance. Women are often taught that they should stand and even walk with their legs very close together. It may evStanding_Feeten have been an unconscious education that came from looking at photos of women in magazines. Or, if you’re tall, you may stand with your feet very far apart so you don’t tower over other people quite so much. Whatever your gender or your height, let your feet be as wide apart as your ribcage.

“I find it’s easiest to put your hands on your ribs at the widest point and to line your feet up under that,” Thomas says.

This simple change helps your muscles, tendons and ligaments avoid excessive wear and fatigue by distributing your weight more evenly.

3. Feel Your Feet. “I realize this makes me sound like a crazy lady,” Thomas says. “But most of us have unconscious habits of clenching our feet, gripping the groStanding_Toesund with our toes, or resting on either our inner or outer arches, all of which are a pattern of strain that takes a toll on the body.”

To start to undo this unnecessary and unhelpful tension, Thomas counsels taking a few moments throughout the day to feel — really feel — your feet on the ground. It’s a valuable reminder that the ground is there to support you and you should allow your feet soften into it.

“Doing this will have reverberations throughout your whole body, allowing you to stand longer and more effortlessly,” she says.

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