Posture: A simple technique to enhance your good looks

By Jackie Rainford Corcoran Explore Big Sky Health Columnist

Want to look better right now? Stand or sit up straight. That’s it. How does that feel?

Posture is everything. You know it when you see it. Both good and bad posture impact the way we perceive others and reflect how we feel about ourselves. Good posture makes you more attractive.

In the above image, notice how the woman’s belly protrudes and her chest falls as she stands hunched over. Then, without a crash diet or breast augmentation, she transforms her figure simply by standing tall.

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk dives deeper into how posture affects us. Her studies prove that standing in a “power position” with head up, chest open, and arms and legs uncrossed for just two minutes impacts our levels of testosterone and cortisol. A confident, expansive posture causes testosterone (a sex hormone – and yes, women have testosterone too) levels to increase and cortisol (a stress hormone) levels to decrease.

She compares this to standing in a submissive, contractive posture with eyes down, shoulders rounded and arms/legs crossed. In this posture, again for only two minutes, the hormonal effect is the opposite with testosterone going down and cortisol going up. Try it out for yourself and see if you feel the difference.

If standing up straight to improve your looks doesn’t compel you, then do it for your health and mind. Good posture improves your organ function, reduces tension in your neck, shoulders and back, increases energy and improves concentration. We naturally appear sexier when we feel healthier.

How can you check your own posture? Have a friend hold a straight stick or plumb line down the side of your body. The line should intersect your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle. If you’re sitting, the line goes through the ear, shoulder and hip. You can also ask a friend to photograph you from the side. Print out the image and, using a straight edge, draw a line through your body like the one I described. How do you line up?

If you have poor posture, gently stretch tight muscles and strengthen chronically lengthened muscles. For further assistance consult a personal trainer, physical therapist or yoga/pilates instructor.

Stretching and strengthening exercises will account for mere minutes of your day. An even more effective way to lengthen and strengthen your muscles is to hold good posture all the time, wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.

Here is a simple technique to get you into proper alignment: Imagine a string attached to the top of your head. Allow that string to lift the crown of your head toward the sky (be careful not to lift the chin up as this shortens the muscles in the back of the neck). Feel how that creates space between the vertebrae, engages the abs and takes pressure off the lower back.

Enjoy improved looks, sex appeal and health right now through good posture. Chances are, you’ll inspire others to do the same.

Jackie Rainford Corcoran is an IIN Certified Holistic Health Coach, a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, public speaker and health activist. Contact her at jackie@thetahealth.com, or find more at thetahealth.org. Visit ted.com/speakers/amy_cuddy to watch Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on body positioning.