Hunched backs do little to flatter the figure — and the wrong kind of shoe choice could lead to poor posture and other avoidable health woes.
“Good posture is one of the foundations for good health,” advises Dr. Liza Egbogah, a Toronto-based chiropractor and shoe designer who has treated women for high-heel-related injuries for the past 10 years and is an expert in body posture.
“When standing in shoes you want to make sure that your weight is evenly distributed,” Dr. Egbogah added. “This means that you want to place equal weight on each foot while ensuring that the entire length of your foot is used to support you.”
Learning to stand properly in footwear is only step closer to a leaner and taller frame; choosing the right shoe type isn’t as obvious as you think.
“Wearing shoes that are completely flat, stilettos and heels over 3 inches make it difficult to achieve good posture,” Dr. Egbogah explained. “High heels, especially those over 3 inches, do not help you stand up straight. Instead, they cause your pelvis to tilt forward, accentuating the curve in your lower back. This puts strain on muscles that now have to try and work overtime trying to achieve upright positioning.”
“Good supportive walking shoes or pumps that have an orthotic insole can prevent the tilt and will actually help you maintain good posture. You can also get custom orthotics to wear in your shoes for some additional support.”
Below, Dr. Egbogah’s top three recommendations you can do at home to improve your posture to look taller and thinner:
Pectoral stretch: Interlock your hands behind your back, keeping your arms straight while pulling your hands down towards to ground. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds while keeping your body in an upright position. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.
What it does: By releasing tight pectoral muscles, the shoulders will visibly drop and move backward, combatting the rounded hunch effect that ads bulk. This results in a slimmer-looking frame, while the increased blood flow provides a facial glow.
Thoracic extension: Stand or sit in a chair and clasp both hands behind your head. Gently arch backward, squeeze your shoulder blades together and hold for five seconds. You should feel a comfortable stretch through your chest. Do this several times each day.
What it does: This reduces hunching in the middle back, opens up the chest and creates a natural breast lift.
Back bends: Stand with your feet planted firmly on the ground and your hands behind your hips for support. Look up to the ceiling and take a deep breath in. As you exhale, slowly and gently bend backwards to the point where you can maintain your balance. Take a few breaths while you’re in the back bend, then slowly come back up to standing. As you feel more comfortable with this exercise you can bring your arms overhead while you bend.
What it does: This is an ideal exercise to do every time you get up from a sitting position. It takes pressure off your spine, which reduces lower pack pain, while also improving a hunched appearance. Looking up to the ceiling corrects misaligned forward head posture too, making you look longer and leaner.