Poise Is Not Vanity: 3 Reasons to Prioritize Posture

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Were you surprised that proper posture charted at #4 in my 11 Strategic Style Solutions guide? It’s not the first thing that springs to mind for most people. It’s hardly a sexy topic but posture is a critical component of style.

Think about style icons like Audrey Hepburn or Lady Di. Do you recall seeing these women with rolling shoulders or pooching bellies? Likely not. What about today’s icons, like Amal Clooney or Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge? Do they slouch? Hardly. They’re known for their stature and poise.

Despite what some might think, poise is not vanity. Style and posture walk hand in hand, sure, but a strong core does far more for your body and mind than it does for your appearance.

Here are three reasons why simply maintaining strong posture will help you look and feel your best without spending a dime.

1. Posture begets physical and mental health

Before we even talk about how posture impacts style, let’s acknowledge that we’d all rather be on our feet than flat on our backs!

What most people don’t realize is that everyday poor posture welcomes serious injuries. When we remain sedentary or consistently stand out of alignment, we train our bodies to get by without structural integrity. As a result, we’re ill-equipped to sustain wear and tear.

Serious back pain has the potential to spoil everything. Sleep, concentration, stress management, and mobility are just a few things that can suffer at the hands of a back injury. It’s easy for one’s thought life to spiral too. Clinical depression often accompanies chronic back pain

Poise is hardly a priority when pain is at the helm and rightly so. That said, by prioritizing poise and correct posture, it’s possible to skirt physical and mental ailments and get on with living in style.

2. Positive posture conveys confidence

Style has little to do with heels and handbags and everything to do with confidence. A woman who embodies true style needn’t prove a point with her clothing. She is comfortable in her skin. Whatever she chooses to wear is secondary. 

One of the surest markers of a confident person is their posture. They appear both powerful and at ease. They stand tall with their shoulders back. They hold their head up and look people in the eye. 

And the interesting thing about healthy posture and confidence is they are inextricably linked. If you find yourself feeling deflated, the quickest way to amplify confidence is to spend some time in the mirror standing tall. Just ask best-selling author and social psychologist Amy Cuddy. Her TED Talk on body language explores the relationship between posture, perception, and personal power. It’s garnered over 53 million views for good reason.

By standing tall, you gain confidence. In turn, you can focus more on the world around you and less on your posture. It’s the best kind of style-inducing vicious cycle. 

3. Positive posture showcases clothing

How often do you see a runway model strut with shoulders rolled forward? Exactly. Healthy posture magnifies the beauty of a designer’s hard work.

There’s a reason tailors ask patrons to stand tall in front of a mirror. Garments are best measured and modified while they’re on an upright dress form or genuine human body.

Clothing doesn’t quite reach its potential when being worn by a person with poor alignment. Your shoulders are the rack on which everything hangs. Keep your hanger strong.

If you’re taking the time to invest in a quality jacket or dress, be sure to stand tall too so it can fall the way it was designed to. You and your clothes will both look your best. 

So what exactly is posture? 

It’s the position in which we hold our bodies while standing, sitting, or lying down. According to the American Chiropractic Association, “Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity. Without posture and the muscles that control it, we would simply fall to the ground.”

Why is poor posture so prevalent?

Sadly, much of society’s routine undermines healthy posture. We move from our cars to our desks. We spend hours hunched over a computer. Our phones clamour for attention and as a result, our gaze is often cast low. Our neck, spine, and pelvis pay the price.

The way we dress can also affect our ability to stand properly. Oversized handbags and totes, sky-high heels, and ill-fitting bras can also cause our postural demise. 

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What are symptoms of poor posture? 

The American Chiropractic Association cites the following

  • Rounded shoulders

  • Pot bellies

  • Bent Knees when standing or walking

  • Heads that either leans forward or backward

  • Back Pain

  • Body aches and pains

  • Muscle fatigue

  • Headaches

How does one stand properly?

  • Bear your weight primarily on the balls of your feet.

  • Keep your knees slightly bent.

  • Keep your feet about shoulder-width apart.

  • Let your arms hang naturally down the sides of your body.

  • Stand straight and tall with your shoulders pulled backward.

  • Tuck your stomach in.

  • Keep your head level. Your earlobes should be in line with your shoulders. Do not push your head forward, backward, or to the side.

What is the best way to sleep?

  • Find the mattress that is right for you. While a firm mattress is generally recommended, some people find that softer mattresses reduce their back pain. Your comfort is important.

  • Sleep with a pillow. Special pillows are available to help with postural problems resulting from a poor sleeping position.

  • Avoid sleeping on your stomach.

  • Sleeping on your side or back is more often helpful for back pain. If you sleep on your side, place a pillow between your legs. If you sleep on your back, keep a pillow under your knees.

How do I sit properly?

  • Keep your feet on the floor or on a footrest, if they don’t reach the floor.

  • Don’t cross your legs. Your ankles should be in front of your knees.

  • Keep a small gap between the back of your knees and the front of your seat.

  • Your knees should be at or below the level of your hips.

  • Adjust the backrest of your chair to support your low and mid-back or use a back support.

  • Relax your shoulders and keep your forearms parallel to the ground.

  • Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.

Can I correct my posture?

YES!  It won’t happen overnight but as your awareness increases and you make a conscious effort to sit, stand and lie properly, you can slowly and surely take back your healthy posture. If you’re the type that exercises at home, here’s a brief workout to get you moving in the right direction.

Moving through life with a strong back should top everyone’s to-do list. Yes, it’s a hallmark of style, but more importantly, it’s a hallmark of health.

Whether it’s buying a first-class mattress or a membership to a Pilates studio, prioritizing back health is a must. And you don’t have to wait for an injury until you find an excellent physiotherapist, chiropractor, or registered massage therapist. (Consider this a reminder to book your first appointment!)

How do you maintain your posture?

PS. I’m cooking up some helpful blogs over the next few months. (There will be other fun announcements too!) If you’re interested in receiving all things Marilee directly to your inbox, head over here and join my mailing list. I only send good stuff. Promise.)