Phyx Your Posture

Correcting your posture is hard. Let’s make it easier.

Improving your posture is fundamentally hard. One of the reasons that correct posture is hard to attain is that some of your muscles are too weak, and others are too strong. Weak muscles are hard to switch on, and strong muscles are hard to stop using. This program will guide you through the process of strengthening your weak muscles and relieving the tension in your strong muscles. Then we will show you how to sit, stand, and stay active in a way that promotes balance.

Let’s start with the simple stuff.

One of the simplest, yet most overlooked steps to correcting your posture is changing the way you breathe. It may sound strange, but many of us breathe in a way that creates tension in our shoulders and back and neglects one of our most important muscles: the diaphragm.

The diaphragm is an abdominal muscle that is responsible for breathing and core stability. When we don’t use our diaphragm, the body recruits the muscles of the neck and shoulders to breathe. This can lead to stiffness and tension in the upper body. More importantly, activating your diaphragm will make it much easier for you to switch on the other weak muscles in your abdomen.

By consciously engaging the diaphragm to breathe, we facilitate activation of the abdominal and pelvic floor muscles and reduce tension on the neck and shoulders. Activation of the abdominal and pelvic muscles is an essential part of improving strength throughout the trunk and lower limbs.

Exercise 1: Diaphragmatic Breathing

Lie on your back with your knees bent and the soles of your feet on the floor. Place a hand on your belly button, and a hand on your chest. Take a slow, deep breath through your nose so that the hand over the belly button rises while the hand on the chest stays flat. Imagine expanding the bottom of your rib cage and filling it with air. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle that contracts downwards as you inhale, displacing the abdominal organs outwards, which is why your belly rises.

Common Mistakes

• Inhaling through the mouth. The diaphragm can still be activated when breathing through the mouth, but breathing through the nose will make it easier.

• Breathing through the chest and shoulders. If the hand on the chest is rising before the hand on the belly, it’s likely that you’re using the muscles of the upper trunk to draw air in. These muscles are normally only used to draw breath in times of exertion when the body’s oxygen demand is high. If you’re finding it difficult to make the belly rise independently, try placing a small weight such as a cell phone or tissue box on the belly button and concentrate on making it rise by breathing with the diaphragm. The weight will provide sensory feedback and give you something to push against.

• Arching the lower back to lift the belly. Initially, when the diaphragm is hard to control, you may find yourself trying to compensate by arching the lower back to lift the belly. To counter this, make sure the lower back stays close to the surface you’re lying on and doesn’t move excessively as you breathe.

Once you have taken 10 diaphragmatic breaths in the lying position, your lower abdomen and pelvic muscles will be much easier to activate. Move on to the next exercise to begin activating the foundation of your posture.

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