“Because of poor posture, practically 95 per cent of our population suffers from varying degrees of spinal curvature, not to mention more serious ailments.” — Joseph H. Pilates
It’s no secret that dancers have great posture — and it’s not just to exude elegance or confidence; good posture is crucial for overall balance and body control. And that’s because posture has to do with the proper alignment of our spine. A good posture sets your body up for less wear and tear as you get older, as muscles are engaged more efficiently and there’s less stress and wear-and-tear on the ligaments holding the joints of the spine together.
Conversely, slouching and poor posture has far-reaching consequences for our bodies, capable of causing back and neck pain, muscle fatigue, breathing limitations, arthritic joints, digestive problems and mood disturbances. It also affects first impressions whether you’re getting a job, starting a new relationship, or making new friends.
Poor posture isn’t always a result of a bad habit of slouching. As we get older, our muscles get less flexible which then decreases our range of motion. Muscle strength also affects balance in various ways, which is why core muscle training is so important for maintaining a ‘sturdy central link’ between our upper and lower body.
Thankfully, it’s possible to achieve better posture through balance and strength exercises. All of us — experienced dancers included — suffer from some form of muscular imbalance which then affects good alignment. It’s why dancers focus on stretching and strengthening the body correctly. And why dance and fitness classes help guide you away from unconscious mistakes you might make with the way you hold your body.
Here’s a few tips for improving your posture, whether you’re on or off the dance floor:
- Stand with your body weight forward, mostly on the balls of your feet.
- Distribute your body weight evenly between your feet.
- Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
- Try not to lock your knees.
- Stand tall, with shoulders square and relaxed.
- Keep your head in line with your spine, eyes straight ahead.
- Hold your chin parallel to the floor.
- Keep your neck long and stretched upward.
Here’s to standing taller!