By Rhea Sheedy, the founder of Ballet Fusion
Being a ballet instructor and trained in the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus – good posture has been instilled into me from a young age but this year, it’s unexpectedly been thrown into the spotlight thanks to the pandemic.
Working-from-home has undoubtedly had some great benefits like being able to spend more time with family, save money and reassess what is truly important. But it has come at a price and for some people, that is suffering from back pain after being hunched over the dining room table for the best part of a year.
But it’s not only those who are working-from-home that are at risk of bad posture. It can be consequential from sitting in the office where your desk chair looks comfortable but doesn’t actually provide much support. Not to mention, as we age, we are at a higher risk of osteoporosis which can weaken the vertebrae, causing the spine to curve forward.
It’s especially problematic for those of us who aren’t getting out for a daily walk (I know, it’s especially hard in winter!) because having good posture is important for numerous reasons. Not only does it look good – nobody wants a hunchback – but it’s vital in preventing us from doing permanent long-term damage to our bodies.
Did you know that good posture really comes from core strength – not just the abs which we often think of as the ‘core’ but which also includes the back, hips and glutes as well as abdominal muscles? We weaken our posture and get into bad habits with our sedentary lifestyles but luckily we can reverse these effects.
There are a few simple exercises that we can all start implementing into our daily lives to help us stand a little taller. All it takes is the will, a chair and 5 minutes of your time. Keep reading to find out how:
This one looks super simple but the exercise will force your body into a perfect posture hold.
- Standing facing a barre or chair.
- Feet in first (toes turned out and heels together).
- Squeeze the butt, engage the stomach muscles, relax the shoulders and think about growing tall through the top of the head.
- Lift one foot up and place it just under the knee cap – turning the lifted knee out towards the side.
- Hold everything strong and lift your arms off the barre holding them in front of you in first position. Keep the shoulders relaxed.
- Hold the position for 5-to-20 seconds and then repeat on the other leg.
- Do as many reps as possible and repeat the exercise as often as you can.
Port de Bras
Port de Bras translates to ‘carriage of the arms’ but posture is key to this exercise. There are many variations but this simple one is a lovely posture improver.
- Stand with your heels together, toes turned out to the corners, legs straight, squeeze the butt, engage the abdominals and lower the shoulders.
- Bring the arms up to first, out to 2nd and breathe in. Fold forwards, dropping the arms and head and exhaling as you go.
- Roll up through the spine and reset your posture checks. Repeat this four times.
- Rise up, bringing the arms overhead and breathe in (legs straight, butt squeezed, abs engaged, shoulders down).
- Lower the heels and arms – breathe out, keeping your posture strong. Repeat this 4 times.
Note: The breathing is important here as it will help to keep your spine long and muscles expanded.
Down Dog to High Plank & Child’s Pose
This is a lovely exercise to strengthen and stretch the core – helping to correct alignment issues and build strength.
- Hold a downward dog position for 8 seconds. Pull shoulders down and away from the ears, look down or through the legs and push the hips high whilst driving heels down towards the floor.
- Move your shoulders forwards over your hands into a high plank. Hold for 8 seconds.
- Gently lower the knees to the floor, and leaving your hands where they are, push your bottom back onto your heels. Drop the head and enjoy this lovely big stretch.
- Repeat this whole routine 4 to 8 times.
Ballet Chest Lift
- Laying flat on the floor on your front. Bring your arms to 5th position overhead (fingertips nearly touching, shoulders pulled down away from the ears and palms inwards)
- Keeping the neck straight and free of tension and squeezing the butt, lift the chest off the floor and lower.
- 5 to 8 reps of these a few times a week will help to strengthen the back, which often gets overlooked and is key to better posture.
By Rhea Sheedy is the founder of Ballet Fusion and has been teaching ballet for over 15 years. She has been trained with the Royal Academy of Dance syllabus and is passionate about health, fitness and wellbeing.