Let’s be real, our posture suffers when we have kids. First, there are changes during pregnancy: bigger belly, bigger breasts, and the spine shifts to sustain the changes. Then we have a baby: we’re rounding forward, feeding, staring intently, pushing a stroller, carrying all the things, and they just keep growing.
Through all these stages and phases our body shifts and changes and new aches and pains easily creep in. The good news is that there are a few things we can do to help improve our posture that will not take up a ton of our time.
#1 Awareness + Variety
Simply be aware of your body in space. How are you sitting? Where is your head? Are you putting your weight more on one side of the body than the other? How do you stand? Do you always cross your legs?
Just the act of being more aware of how you sit, stand, and move will start to help you make improvements in your posture and muscle balance. That will also reduce tension and aches and pains.
It is also important to pay attention to what you always do physically.
Do you always cross your right leg over the left? That is going to cause imbalance in your body. Switch it up!
Is your workout routine the same thing all the time? Change it up!
It is important to move your body in a variety of different ways to keep it healthy, supple and aligned. Variety is key when posture matters.
#2 Don’t Sit on Your Tailbone!
Furniture was designed to be comfy and stylish, not to help us have better posture. More often than not, it makes it worse.
When you are sitting, adjust your pelvis so you are not sitting on your tail bone, but you are instead sitting on your sitz bones (ischial tuberosity), those 2 boney parts at the bottom of your pelvis. Your tailbone will be slightly untucked and from this neutral position you can sit up tall and create more length in your spine.
#3 Stack Your Ribs
Stack your ribs over your pelvis. They sit above the pelvis like a little cage. Make sure the front ribs are soft, not jutting forward. Rib thrusting, thrusting the lower rigs forward, is something we want to avoid.
Bring your head back. Ears on top of the shoulders. Lengthen through the crown of your head.
When it comes to posture, no one has perfect posture all the time. Little improvements here and there make all the difference.
If your posture is not the best, as you begin to implement these small shifts, the muscles that need to be used more are going to be sore!
That is a good sign, it means they are getting stronger. Eventually the muscles that need to be stronger will start do more of the work, and the muscles that were being forced to do the work due to poor posture, will relax and you will begin to have less tension.
Things to STOP doing:
When I was a kid I was taught to pull my shoulders back and suck my belly in. That wreaked havoc on my body and I am still re-learning the proper alignment cues. This also makes me really mindful of how I can help my kids be mindful of their posture.
Instead of shoulders back, think of the shoulder blades relaxing down your back. Arms and shoulders are relaxed.
Do not suck your belly in.
Relax your belly. I KNOW, no one wants to do that but sucking the belly in all the time actually is not great for your pelvic floor.
Ways to talk to your kids about posture matters:
I use these posture cues with my kids, especially my older daughter, since I notice her slouching and jutting her head forward as she sits at her computer.
“Can you untuck your tail?”
I have them imagine that they have the tail of their favorite animal and they don’t want to sit on it.
“Can you get even taller, like a string is pulling you up from the top of your head?”
“Imagine that there are little weighted bracelets in your wrists, so your neck can get long.”
“Can you stack your head over your heart and grow a little taller like a big tree?”
I notice that my kids stand and move like me, so I try my best to be mindful of my posture and how I move through space.
Don’t obsess over your posture. Just bring more awareness to the fact that posture matters both for yourself and your children, and you will be on the right path.