Posture plays an influential role in many ways. It is critical to maintaining your health and physical appearance, two factors that can have a dramatic effect on your life.
I typically start my weekends strolling through the farmers market first thing in the morning. One particular morning, as I wandered through the crowd, I remembered that my latest column needed to be completed over the weekend. Suddenly, it occurred to me that my entire study group and column content was currently walking all around me. A vast selection of ages, genders, genetics and postures were all within arm’s reach. Immediately inspired, I quickly found an empty bench and began to take notes.
Shortly after watching people pass by, I began to notice that nearly one in every three people had hunched shoulders, slouched backs, awkward gates, slight limps and/or tilted stances. I instantly found myself sitting, shoulders back, abdomen in and feet placed firmly in front of me.
Posture: 1 a position of a person’s body when standing or sitting. 2 the carriage of the body as a whole.
It is quite difficult to change your posture as you get older. As we begin to age, we lose both bone and muscle strength and density if our bodies lack essential nutrients or develop medical conditions such as osteoporosis or arthritis. Due to the natural aging process, your posture automatically begins to weaken. If, as children and young adults, these traits exist, they become even more prominent and worsen as aging sets in.
Begin to notice how you sit in a chair; drive your car; work on your computer; sleep in your bed; cross your legs; wear your shoes; stretch before exercise; perform your facials, waxing, nail services, body treatments and makeup applications. Do you even realize any of these behaviors? You need to start now!
On a recent trip to China, I had a free afternoon and went for a manicure. I watched five technicians perform pedicures sitting on small step stools, hunched over freshly exfoliated feet, shoulders dropped off to the side they were working on with the polish bottle held in place between their knees. My back started to ache just watching!
We were all educated in school about posture, but how many of you recall what you learned, and more importantly, practice it? When was the last time you adjusted your treatment bed or stool? Do you stand during a facial? Are you hunched over the client during waxing? Is your makeup chair adjustable so that your client is at eye level with you? Are you sore, achey or even numb by the end of the day?
The posture you establish as a child is the posture you end up with as an adult. Childhood posture stems from simple genetics but also things such as shyness and low self-esteem. For example, the quiet shy child with the head bowed and shoulders dropped. Poor posture early in life worsens with age and can effect mobility and agility in later life.
Your habit posture becomes your true posture. How you sit at your treatment chair, your desk, your computer, and in your car can also reflect the way you sit on your couch, your dining table, your bicycle, and how you stroll through the super market.
Poor posture is also worsened by poor nutrition. Vitamins A and D, calcium and magnesium are critical to healthy muscles, bones and joints. Muscle loss begins in men in the early twenties, while women do not experience muscle loss until their forties. Bone loss, on the other hand, is an entirely different story and can start in the thirties and then accelerate with hormonal changes during perimenopause and manopause.
The solution is to take your vitamins, eat green leafy vegetables, healthy dairy products (cottage cheese and yogurt), lean meats high in protein, and one more thing... exercise! Exercise has been clinically proven to strengthen muscles and bones and keep them healthier considerably longer.
"The posture you establish as a child is the posture you end up with as an adult."
Aside from the physical effects, posture affects other core components of our being. First, your posture defines your personality from an outsider’s perspective. We all know how first impressions stick with people. Your posture represents confidence, security, maturity, control and professionalism. To be viewed as confident and professional, it is necessary to stand tall and stand proud! Reverse roles for a minute… imagine yourself arriving for a service at a new spa or skin care center, very concerned about the condition of your skin and desperately wanting professional direction to improve your concerns. Out comes your aesthetician with his/her shoulders slumped, back arched, and offering you a weak handshake. What is your first thought? Lack of confidence; lack of skill. Do not do that to yourself. You have placed way too much time into your knowledge, skill and ability to be judged simply because you do not stand up straight.
It is tough enough when others judge you by your posture. Studies have shown that your posture mimics your personality and self-esteem. Have you heard the saying, “Fake it ‘til you make it”? If you want to be viewed as confident, professional and knowledgeable, you must practice good posture. Strong, straight posture exudes confidence and will instill that confidence within you. When you look good, you feel good. When your posture portrays personal security, you portray personal security.
Take 10 minutes for yourself and evaluate your posture. How are you sitting right now? Stand up and look in the mirror. What does your posture say about you? What will that posture look like in 10, 20, 30 years? Take care of yourself and be aware of your body and your movements. Your posture represents health, strength, beauty, confidence and success. So sit up straight, put your shoulders back and stand tall!
Michelle D’Allaird is a New York State licensed aesthetician and International CIDESCO Diplomat. She is the owner of the Aesthetic Science Institute aesthetic schools in Syracuse and Latham, N.Y. She is a consultant and educator for international cosmetic companies around the world. D’Allaird is a contributing author to major industry trade magazines, as well as a host and speaker for International Congress of Esthetics & Spa conferences in Miami, Philadelphia, Dallas and Long Beach. She is also a co-author of Salon Fundamentals aesthetic textbook. Her expertise lies in education and curriculum development for aesthetic, medical and laser courses.