Photo: Bèla Adler and Salvador Fresneda
Sorry brides to be, but your mother was right — yet again. Remember all of those times she told you to stand up straight? It turns out she was on to something. If preventing back injuries was never reason enough, perhaps this will do the trick: Perfect posture makes you look tall, confident, photogenic and like you really did drop those last five pre-wedding pounds. We asked Rachel Piskin, former New York City Ballet dancer and co-founder of ChaiseFitness, for tips on how to nail it for your wedding day.
1. When you're at work, get up and walk around every two hours.
Staring at a computer screen all day can wreak havoc on your posture. Too busy? Exercise at your desk. Do a few shoulder lifts, rolls and chest stretches to keep your upper back and shoulder muscles flexible. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and shoulders in line with your hips to keep your spine in proper alignment.
2. When you're at home, engage in resistance exercises.
Grab any type of elastic band — even panty hose will do the trick! Wrap it around your rib cage from behind and cross the two ends in front of your chest, holding each end with either hand. Extend your arms forward into a small V, your palms facing down while standing with your feet hip distance apart. Drop your shoulders and pull your hands apart, gradually forming a wide V and creating tension in the band. Do 20 repetitions daily.
3. When you're at the gym, try Pilates and ballet-esque classes.
These exercises help with body alignment, strengthening your core, upper back and spine. "You'll be able to stand with proper posture for longer periods of time," Piskin says. "Once your core and back are strong, you learn how to properly engage those muscles."
4. When you're sleeping, lay on your back.
It might not be super comfortable, but this sleeping position lets the mattress support your spine. "Keep your pillows to a minimum as well," Piskin says. "The more you can sleep with your spine in a neutral position the better."
5. During the day, do a quick double check.
Close your eyes and see if you can balance. If you can't, you're probably standing with poor posture. Or, when you pass a mirror, roll your shoulders back, stand tall and release tension in your upper back and shoulders.
6. Choose your footwear wisely.
If you're wearing shoes that hurt your feet or make you feel unstable, you may be more inclined to slouch. Leading up to your wedding, wear your most comfortable shoes — and practice walking in your day-of heels at home!
7. Whatever you do, don't engage in activities that make you hunch over.
Carrying heavy bags, working at a desk that isn't the proper height, or engaging in any activity that bends your upper body forward for more than an hour tightens the muscles in your upper back, chest and shoulders, leading to poor posture.
8. Oh, and don't forget to practice your wedding-photo pose.
Stand tall with your shoulders back and flex your core muscles. Instead of letting your arms hang by your sides, place your hands on your hips, around your bouquet, or your fiancé's waist to help prevent slouching.