Today, much of life’s communication and conversation happens via various devices such as phones and tablets. We are often seated too, either at our computers, in front of the TV, or driving. Hunching, slouching or constantly gazing down means posture and structural health can be compromised, creating aches and pains in the neck and lower back. 

The following simple posture check will help you become more aware of your posture, and start to create better postural habits. With practice and daily commitment, this quick body scan will help you achieve a healthy, optimal postural stance. 

Stand up straight and fix your focus line directly ahead at eye level. It may be helpful to focus on an object or viewpoint. Starting at the feet, you will learn how to scan your body position from the ground up.

 

Let’s start with the FEET

 

1. Have your feet slightly separated about hip bone distance apart. Feel grounded through the soles of the feet and spread the toes, especially the big toes, the little toes and the heels creating a triangle of support. You may tend to roll to the outside of the feet or to the inside edges of the feet. If so, adjust the feet, so that your weight is as evenly placed as possible.

 2. Shift your body weight forwards feeling more pressure through the balls of the feet and toes. Then shift your weight back so you feel more pressure through the heels. Now shift to one side, feeling more weight distributed down one leg, and then the other. Do this a few times in each direction, forwards, back and side to side. 

 3. Gradually let your bodyweight settle somewhere in the middle so your weight is evenly distributed through both legs and between the balls and heels of the feet. You can return to this checkpoint as many times as you need.

 

Now to the KNEES

 

1. With your strong base of support through the feet, ensure your legs are straight by gently pressing the knees back so you feel you are fully extending the knees. If you know that you hyperextend at the knee joints, be cautious not to hang your weight back into the heels too much. If you are more inclined to stand with knees turned outwards, or turned inwards, aim to have the knee caps pointing forwards. Avoid forcing this position but aim for an aligned leg position with the knees facing the same direction as the toes. 

 2. Soften the knees slightly so you feel some muscle activity around the knee joint. Practise this a few times so you find and feel stability and strength in your knees, and the knees are positioned over your ankles.

 

Let’s look at the PELVIS and HIP BONES

 

1. Start by placing your hands on the brim of your pelvis. Think of your pelvis like a bowl of water sitting below the rib cage. Rock your pelvis towards your body as if trying to tip water over the bowl towards your belly and curling your tailbone up between your legs. Then rock, or tip your pelvis away from you as if trying to tip the water over the front of the imaginary bowl and your tailbone points behind you. 

 2. The pelvic bowl can also tip from side to side as well as move around in a circular direction both ways. You will feel a change in the way your lumbar spine moves along with the action of the pelvis. As the pelvis tips towards the body your lumbar curve will flatten or even slightly round. When the pelvis tips the other way the lumbar curve will arch further. 

 3. Practise these various moves with the pelvis several times and move as smoothly as you can. Bend the knees if you need to in order to coordinate the pelvis, spine and hip joints together. 

 4. Settle somewhere in a centred, level position which is comfortable and gives you the most length in your spine. Once you have settled, feel more length in the whole of the spine while reaching the crown of the head directly up towards the ceiling. Check out the image below, and aim for a neutral pelvis. 

 

 

Now let’s turn our attention to the SPINE





1.  The spine should be able to settle with as much length as possible, creating space between each vertebrae. Imagine you are decompressing the spine by reaching the top of your head towards the ceiling and the tailbone directly downwards to the ground. Using your powers of imagination, see if you can set the crown of the head on top of the tailbone.

 2. Scan the length of your spine in your mind's eye from the tailbone, over the sacrum into the lumbar curve which should form a soft concave curve. Then move your attention to the longer convex curve of your thoracic spine and finally over the cervical/neck area which softly curves away from the thoracic curve to another concave shape. Imagine a stream of energy radiating up along this gentle S shape spine, and out through the crown of the head; your spine is alive and constantly reacting to your body’s movement.

 

Let’s consider the RIB CAGE

 

1. Imagine your ribcage being another bowl sitting on top of your pelvic bowl. Have them sitting one on top of the other, the top bowl being slightly bigger than the bottom bowl. 

2. As with the pelvis feel the ability to tip the rib cage forwards and backwards, side to side and in a circular direction. This will alter the shape of your thoracic spine depending on the direction of rib cage movement. 

3. Feel in your body where your most centred and level position is. Take time to practise this and finish with the rib cage placed entirely on the top of your pelvis. Remember the feeling that your spine is long, your rib cage is not flaring open.

 

Let’s consider the CHEST and COLLAR BONES

 

 

1. Simply feel your chest is open with your arms hanging directly by your side. When the chest is broad at the front, your collar bones will open wider away from the breast bone.

 

The SHOULDERS and SCAPULAE

 

1. When the collar bones have widened at the front, think of melting the shoulder blades (scapulae) down and away from your ears. These flat bones lie on our rib cage at the back and should be softly placed against the rib cage. 

2. Avoid the feeling of pinching the shoulder blades together, spread them away from the spine at the same time as opening the collar bones at the front.

 

Lastly, let’s consider the HEAD 

 

1. Drop the weight of your head forward as if it may fall off your shoulders. Then tip your head backwards. Then tip the head to one side and then the other.

2. Find what feels most centred to you. Try and ensure the head is balanced directly ON TOP of the skeleton… remember, balance the crown on top of your tailbone!

 3. Look at the image above, and notice that when the head is balanced on top of the spine, the least amount of weight is transferred through the neck, and down the spine. Aim for this as much as you can. This will reduce neck tension, stiffness and pain. 

Now body scan your way up from the feet to the head once again. Check you are standing as tall as possible. Notice how you feel. Are you standing tall, and feeling tall? Well done on improving your posture!