In the old days, many of us had to walk around with books on our heads to prove to our parents that we had good posture. I never succeeded at this because the top of my head is a little pointy, but since I have been performing and teaching, I notice how much difference good posture makes: the correct posture can relieve stress on your body, improve your breath capacity and control, improve air flow, and so much more!

For years I have lectured about shoulder placement, body alignment, and so on, so I thought I would post details about how to correct your posture. There are two main areas I look for: vertical alignment and shoulder alignment.

Vertical alignment is how your body looks from the side. Your ear, shoulder, and hip should form a straight vertical line. If they don’t, and most people are not well-aligned, here is how to correct that. Have someone take a picture of you from the side as you stand normally. If your ear is in front of your shoulder, or your shoulder and hip are not aligned, first lay down some blankets or mats on the floor so that you are supported from your pelvic area up to your shoulder. Lie down on the blankets in a semi-supine position. That simply means to lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Your head should not be on the blankets but hang off the edge so that the back of your head is supported by the floor. When you have the blanket thickness correctly adjusted, your ear, shoulder, and hip will now be in a straight line. Lie in the position for fifteen minutes a day to retrain your body to the proper alignment.

Another problem is where the shoulders are rolled forward. This can cause thoracic outlet syndrome, which affects a number of internal organs. Most of us who use computers, cell phones, or who drive have to have our shoulders forward for these activities, and remembering to restore your shoulders to a normal position can be difficult. Have someone take a picture of your from the front. If your thumbs are not pointing straight forward (without twisting your arms), and you can see the backs of your hands, your shoulders are rolled forward. To correct this, reach upwards with your arms straight over your head, stretching your ribcage vertically. Then while holding that vertical stretch, place your hands on your head, right where the top of your head meets the back, and tuck your elbows backwards. You’ll feel another stretch; then holding both those stretches, allow your arms to relax to your sides. If you’re doing it correctly, your thumbs will point straight forward. (Don’t twist your arms to get your thumbs straight forward; just keep practicing this exercise.)

You may notice with this exercise that you will feel a strong pull under your collarbones. This means that your muscles have shortened, so pushing firmly from the middle of your chest to your shoulder along those muscles should help lengthen them.

If you cannot put your arms straight over your head, when you practice the semi-supine position, hold a weight in each hand and place your hands over your head. A can of vegetables will work just fine.

One of the things that helped my father was a chi machine. I lent mine to him and he is seeing success at getting his arms to lie flat to the floor. The other day I helped move a bunch of stuff at my parents’ house and needed to use the chi machine for a few minutes to help relieve pressure on my back, and I noticed how much I had missed using it—the undersides of my upper arms really got a workout, and my back felt immensely better.

To use a chi machine, start with five minutes at a time, and gradually work up to longer periods of time. Place your heels in the depressions, with your arms stretched over your head, and after the machine finishes you may feel a tingling. Lie quietly for a few minutes until the tingling passes. If your knees tend to lock, put a pillow underneath them so you don’t get stuck!

With these two exercises done correctly, after a few weeks or months you should notice a difference in your posture. What’s more, other people will notice, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Material is copyrighted and may not be rewritten, copied, or republished in any form without explicit written permission. Use the contact page to request permission.

Ready to take the next step? Find out more about private classical piano lessons, private classical singing lessons, private speaking voice lessons, or master classes, by scheduling an interview at no charge and no obligation. I respect your privacy and your email address will not be sold, rented, transferred, added to a list, etc. It will be used only to contact you for schedule changes.