Charm School: Perfect Posture

Proper posture affects our overall health.  Poor posture can cause, at the very least, strain on muscles and bones that cause tension and pain.  It can place undue stress on vertebra and pinch nerves that further limit mobility.  It affects our ability to breathe deeply.  Poor posture can lower energy levels and affect mood.  Proper posture is not a cure all for every ail, but it certainly can relieve a great many of our physical ones!

Poor posture can also adversely affect our figures.  The stomach pooches, the breasts hang too low and the shoulders slope.  Or the derriere is extended too far behind and we look a bit sway backed.  It is truth that simply straightening up can make us look 25 pounds lighter!  We all want a weight loss solution without dieting.  Well posture is your solution!

Correcting posture is a matter of training yourself to stand correctly, sit correctly and walk correctly.  Fortunately,  correcting our posture is easy enough.  All you need is a wall.

You should stand with feet about shoulder width apart, back to a wall.  You will ideally touch the wall in only three places: your buttocks, your shoulder blades and the back of your head.  Some people tend to naturally lean so only their head will touch the wall.  Others slouch (my tendency) so that the middle back and buttocks touch the wall.  Straighten your spine and practice standing with just buttocks, shoulder blades and back of head touching the wall.  Step away and practice what it feels like to stand correctly.  Note how your chest feels, your shoulders feel, your back feels.  Go back to the wall periodically and realign your posture correctly and step away.  Practice, practice, practice. 

How do you correct your posture when no wall is available?  Some books suggest acting as though you have a string attached to the top of your head and that someone is pulling you up, like a puppet. I watched a ballet teacher speaking on posture and she said that it wasn't much help,  but I find this is a good exercise to practice if you are sitting.  You will feel your body automatically straighten and notice an immediate release in the tension of your shoulders.  I do this frequently in the car while driving, too. 

The following are from one of my vintage Woman's Day magazines.

I cannot post individual links to these Coture Allure posts she has shown for sitting and standing and walking but they are all on this page.   Her site is copyrighted and does not allow me to separate posts for links to just those few that interest me today.

Read her tips carefully.  Note the positions of the ladies in these posts.  In reading the instructions you'll note that she mentions several times the importance of using the thigh muscles to lift yourself and lower yourself.

Your shoes play an important part in posture and in how well you walk.  Platform high heeled shoes may be all the rage but choose a good supportive shoe that allows you to balance properly.  Arch supports help keep knee and ankle aligned in the proper way and that will eliminate or prevent hip pain.  A 2 inch heel is ideal for elongating the look of the leg, while helping one to keep proper balance.  A very high heel forces you to walk on the ball of your foot.  I  did love my high heeled shoes when I was younger but I can say honestly that I find it much easier on my posture to wear lower heeled shoes.

A visual improvement and help for posture are foundation garments.  A bra that fits properly and uplifts the bosom will not only remove pounds visually but it also helps to keep shoulders back because some of the weight that pulls one forward is lifted.  I have noticed in the past that a good supportive bra really does improve my back pain and that is due to the additional support as well as the improvement to my posture overall.

I suggest you measure for a proper fitting bra.  If you do not have a store where they have a knowledgeable fitter, you shall have to learn to do it yourself.  Getting the measurements is not difficult and there are many handy charts to help you determine cup size.  Try on a variety of styles.  I have always said I disliked underwires but of late I've found them to be quite comfortable.  One was a bra from Warner that I won from Bridgette Raes website when Warner had a sponsored post on her blog.  The other is an Olga. Both offer me the side support I need, lift and separate nicely and are so comfortable I forget I'm wearing an underwire.  I also like the Caress bras from Avenue stores.  I have not tried the underwires in that brand but think I will give them a try. 

I like this site from Nordstrom because it also has photos of the different types of bras.  You can see the difference each bra makes in how it fits. 

A shaper garment (we knew them as girdles) can also help lift and flatten the tummy and pull the derriere into alignment with the frame overall.  I really don't care for a girdle but it can be a bonus if you have chronic back pain and it will smooth out the line of your body under clothing, as well as offering additional back support, so do keep that in mind.

Do you know how you should sit when driving in a car to benefit your posture?  Do you know how to properly get in and out of a car?  You really do want to look like a lady at all times.  I generally wear pants but I'm practicing getting in and out with knees together.  It's hard to do if you're in a tight parking space, but then you do have the door to sort of shield you.  However, I thought I'd share this video from The British Princess. 

If you're doing Charm School along with me, the videos listed under The British Princess will be a huge help for how to get in and out nicely.  They are short and to the point and only a few videos overall but they are helpful.

Do you know how to sit properly, maintaining proper posture?  Can you get down on the ground  if needed to sit, or rise, in an elegant way?  I confess, I need lots of practice on both of these.  I'm going to work at this until I am more graceful.  Because so much emphasis in the tutorials I've read and watch insist that sitting and rising is truly all in the thighs, I think I'm going to have to do some squats as exercise to build up those muscles...especially if I'm to develop that smooth rising from the ground!

You'll note too that this video (and most others you'll see on youtube, vintage or modern) show women sitting on hard chairs.  I must share that when I attended the writer's small group for church we went to the leaders home to meet.  She had comfortable seating in her home but to a woman, each of us asked quickly for a throw pillow to put behind our backs.  Her seating  was deep seating and we were mostly short women.  We all knew that we'd never be able to look half graceful because in order to have our feet on the ground, we had to slump into the seat and sit on a curved spine.

I suggest you practice sitting on a dining chair if your own home furnishings are of the comfy sort.  I feel sure once we're adept at sitting and rising from a hard chair we'll soon adapt to more comfortable chairs, although it's doubtful anyone will ever look graceful if they happen to be fond of the big comfy couch that swallows you whole sort of furnishings  at home.  Still, we will be prepared to sit and rise gracefully in general and that's the thing.  And maybe, just maybe, we will find we are far more comfortable in firmer more upright seating, after all. 

I hope that you will practice your posture this week as you sit and drive and stand and walk.  See if you don't breathe more easily, feel better overall and look pounds lighter as well, just by practicing that perfect posture.


Hilogene Oltman said...

Thank you, I found this blog today in posture very useful and helpful. Appreciate the time you took to post this,

Debby in KS said...

This post made me flash back to a comment a woman made to me at the Y pool. I was going to the lap pool and walking down the side of it to get my kickboard. Then I walked back. After I got in with an ungraceful jump lol, she swam over to my lane and said, "My gosh, you have the BEST posture! Do you practice walking that way?" Honestly, I had never considered it!! But! A pool sighting many years before has affected my poolside walking ever since! Firstly, I am fat. Not chubby. F-A-T. I don't say that to speak lowly, but to be honest. Well, before I got fat, I was once at a public pool and saw 2 just chubby women walk by. I immediately noticed that one had her shoulders pulled back and her chin up a little. The other was slouched forward a bit. Well, they were of similar size, but the one with her chin up looked SO MUCH BETTER! In what I think was an attempt to make herself less visible, Miss Slouchy looked like a mass of skin in a wad. Her downward chin and hunching pooched out her tummy and butt, causing flapping thigh jiggle. And, she had a continuous shelf of flesh rolls from chin to boob. I never forgot that. So, I always made a point to stand up straight and walk when I was in a suit. I long ago realized that NOTHING is going to make my jumbo self invisible so the option was to own it! Head up, shoulders back, abs engaged. Now, if I could just make myself do it when I have more clothes on lol.....

Loved the Car Princess. I'm a dress wearer (but definitely not minis) so I've always tried to be somewhat graceful there. My left knee isn't so good, so I've had to do the spin & rise move for awhile now. So, I'm sorta graceful by necessity!

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Notice her obvious confusion?  It's kinda how I feel at present.  I'm not just sure what I should be doing to fix something tha...