Stand Taller and Look Pounds Lighter!

It is the time of year that everyone wants to drop a few pounds.  We are slowly coming out of the frenetic Holiday Season and heading into the New Year with a collective hope for calm.  Many of us have come up with New Year’s Resolutions that revolve around losing a pound or two in order to get healthy.

Unfortunately, losing weight takes time if you do it the healthy way through diet and exercise.  So while you are waiting for the pounds to melt off your body with your diets and work-out plans, here are a few postural exercises that will instantly make you look thinner without even stepping onto the treadmill!

Work those Upper Back Posture Muscles – One of the easiest ways to look tall and lean is to hold your head, neck and shoulders in better posture.   We have all seen older individuals with rounded backs and wondered how to not end up like them.  Engaging your postural muscles around the shoulder girdle and upper back can open up your chest, take pounds off of your appearance, and help you to avoid that forward bent posture.  Some of my favorite exercises for the upper back and shoulder girdle are rows.  You can perform them in upright positions with machines, with the TRX straps, or in a hinged position with free weights.  They are the perfect way to start working on posture and looking your best today.

Seated row

Seated Row

Bent Over Row

Dumbbell Row

TRX Row

TRX Row

Stretch your Upper Neck – Have you ever seen someone who holds their head forward on their shoulders?  This forward head position visually shortens your neck and can make you look pounds heavier than you actually are.  It is also a potentially harmful position for your neck structures and has been linked to increased headaches and neck pain in the research.  Just a little stretching can loosen and lengthen your neck easily.  The best way to safely stretch the upper part of your neck is to interlock your fingers and place your hands behind your lower neck.  Support the back of your neck with your hands as you forcefully tuck your chin down towards your neck.  Hold for 10-30 sec and you should feel a loosening of your neck.  This simple stretch will help you to lengthen your neck and help you look thinner!

Forward head

Forward Head Posture

Strengthen your Low Back Muscles – Use the muscles of your lower back to physically stand taller!  People routinely ask me how tall I am, and are surprised when I say that I am only 5’ 5”.  People consistently think that I am much taller because of the way that I hold myself.  Standing with good low back posture is one of the easiest ways to look a few pounds lighter.  One of my favorite ways to work on the back muscles is with a dead lift.  The research has found that dead lifts are quite safe if performed with a straight back with progressive amounts of weight.  Start with a 10 pound weighted bar and start from there!  You will be standing taller and looking thinner in no time.

Deadlift

Stiff Legged Deadlift

So while all of these recommendations are superficial and do not actually help you to lose weight, they not only will make you look better, but they will take abnormal loads of your neck, back, and shoulders which could help you to avoid injury in the future.  So while you are waiting for your diet and exercise to actually take the pounds away this new year, why not hold yourself a little better and look your best!

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Diana grew up in a small suburb north of Boston. She received her clinical doctorate degree in Physical Therapy at Boston University in 2006. Diana started practicing as a physical therapist at Massachusetts General Hospital. While at MGH, she developed a specialty in the evaluation and treatment of complex lumbopelvic dysfunction. Diana is currently practicing at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston where she is the Orthopedic Clinical Supervisor of the Spine program. She is presently a Boston resident and her interests outside physical therapy include cooking, walking on the Esplanade, and international travel.

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