5 Easy Ways to Boost Body Confidence

The way we talk, sit, and stand carries a lot of meaning. Our unconscious gestures and body posture convey thoughts and feelings even more than the words that we speak. When confronted with conflicting signals (e.g. we speak confidently but our shoulders round and we slouch), others may rely on our non-verbal cues.

What do people see when you walk into a room? Hopefully, they see a confident, successful, happy individual. But if we’re not careful, what we communicate through our body posture, may not be the image we wish to convey.

Our body movements, gestures, alignment (posture), eye contact, skin flushing, breathing, and even perspiration all add to the words that we speak. When I was younger, I blushed easily, and it intensified when people commented on my flushed cheeks. I still blush as an adult, but now I can laugh it off without feeling horribly embarrassed.

The way we talk, sit, and stand carries a lot of meaning. Our unconscious gestures and body posture convey thoughts and feelings even more than the words that we speak. When confronted with conflicting signals (e.g., we speak confidently but our shoulders round and we slouch), others may rely on our non-verbal cues.

Check for inconsistencies. Our gestures should be consistent with what we are saying. For example, if a person speaks as if she is confident but fidgets with her hands when she communicates, she conveys conflicting signals. Unfortunately, the overarching message will usually default to our body language.

Be observant but don’t overanalyze every single gesture. Avoiding eye contact, for example, does not have to mean that a person is lying, insincere or nervous. It is possible someone may look away to recall better or narrate things when not looking directly at you. Trust what your instincts are saying about someone’s non-verbal communication. If you sense that a person is nervous or insincere, you are probably right.

Communication is the foundation of any successful relationship, whether it is personal or professional. If you want to communicate body confidence, power, and authority, practice these 5 communication cues:

1. Maintain assertive body posture.

The key to coming off poised and confident is in the way we hold ourselves. Forward head posture, neck hump, round shoulders and slouching, look less attractive to an observer than an upright, symmetrically aligned body. To stand confidently, stand with your feet approximately four to six inches apart. Distribute your weight equally on both legs, avoid swaying, stand long and tall and face the person/s you are speaking to.

Further Resources: Forward Head Posture – Cause and Cure

When was the last time you met a confident person who slouches? Exactly! When we sit or stand with expansive power postures, we boost our testosterone levels, and testosterone is associated with success and the winner effect.

2. Watch your hands

Placing your hands on your hips is a posture many people use, but this can give off an air of arrogance or impatience, just as crossing your arms can. If you tend to play with your hair, touch your lips, or jiggle coins in your pocket when you’re with a group of people, remember that our body gestures communicate more than the words we say.

3. Don’t cross your legs

Not only is crossing your legs bad for your circulation because it increases the pressure on your veins, but it also makes you take up less space and can look less confident. Don’t spread your legs to China – I recently suggested that a friend of mine sit beside me on the Go Train – and equally, don’t wrap yourself up into a corkscrew either. Imagine what this is doing to your pelvic posture. Yikes!

4. Pay attention to your face

Do you know what your face looks like when you are looking at, listening to, or talking to other people? Some people’s standard facial expressions can be stern, grumpy, angry, and sometimes nice and smiley. I love those people who look like they are smiling, even when they are not.

Mike Budenholzer, coach of the Milwaukee Bucks

This was Mike Budenholzer’s expression through the entire game against the Toronto Raptors this week. Fair enough, the Buck’s did lose (go Raptors!), but even when the Bucks were well ahead, this was his typical appearance. Hilarious! Kind of.

If you have a rather severe standard facial expression, people may avoid you, think you are mad at them, or get defensive around you. These are not good outcomes if you want to connect with people.

What can you do? Please pay attention to the comments your friends and colleagues make when you’re listening to them. Do people often think you’re upset because of your furrowed brow? Do strangers tell you to smile or cheer up? If this is the case, practice smiling in front of your bathroom mirror. And by the way, practicing this will probably make you smile for real. Apparently, it also helps – when listening to others – to keep your lips slightly parted, so you are less likely to interrupt. Try it!

5. Make eye contact

Confident, assertive people can hold a gaze. Too much eye contact may feel intrusive, rude, and dominant. We need to strike a balance. You know that feeling when you are at a business event and speaking to someone who is scanning the room for someone better? It doesn’t feel very good. Don’t be that person! Learn to listen with your eyes. People instinctively like people who listen to them.

The way we hold ourselves is often a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, so being more self-aware and maintaining good body posture (it helps when we practice daily posturecise) improves our confidence. Not only do we look more attractive with upright, symmetrical posture, but studies on posture are beginning to show us that our brains are actually more capable of positivity when the body is in an upright stance.

Important Test For Brain Health – One Leg Balance | Posture Doctor

An important test for brain health is the ability to balance on one leg. Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with vascular disease in the brain, specifically small areas of tissue death (mini strokes) without symptoms.

I made a new friend recently. She, like me, is 50 (something) and a bit of a tomboy, in that she has been active and sporty all her life. Then just over a year ago, she had a car accident and four days later when trying to answer a question at work, nothing came out of her mouth. She just couldn’t find the words. Moments later, she said to her colleague: I think I’ve hurt my brain.

There is a lot of current online buzz about brain health. Listening to CBC Radio this morning they were talking about particulate matter – from city pollution – and the cognitive impact.

Then I happened upon this study that found that an important test for brain health is the ability to balance on one leg. Yasuharu Tabara, Ph.D., and lead study author and associate professor at the Center for Genomic Medicine says that:

Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention, as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline.

The study consisted of 841 women and 546 men, with average age of 67. To measure one-leg standing time, participants stood with their eyes open and raised one leg. They  performed the leg raise twice and the better of the two times was used in the study analysis. Small blood vessel disease of the brain was evaluated using magnetic resonance imaging.

The researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with vascular disease in the brain, specifically small areas of tissue death (mini strokes) without symptoms. They noted that:

  • 34.5 % of those with more than two lesions (infarctions) had trouble balancing.
  • 16 % of those with one lesion had trouble balancing.
  • 30 % of those with more than two micro bleeds had trouble balancing.
  • 15.3 % of those with one micro bleed had trouble balancing.

“One-leg standing time is a simple measure of postural instability and might be a consequence of the presence of brain abnormalities,” said Tabara.

Although this study is not saying that poor balance causes brain disease and/or cognitive decline, the inability to balance for at least 20 seconds, may suggest brain abnormalities. So poor balance suggests poor brain health, but can improving balance improve our brain health as we age? Now that’s a great research question!

Personally, I like to err on the side of caution with my own health. I’m not comfortable with pill popping and I’m definitely not waiting for signs of aging (other than my quickly greying hair and ever-creasing skin argh). I’ve incorporated balance exercises into my daily posture routine.

Get the balance right


Balance shouldn’t be a concern just for the elderly who are more prone to falls (and the serious complications those falls can cause). Balance training is important for anyone who wants to age well, avoid falls, improve athletic ability, coordination, stamina and overall fitness and health.

If you haven’t thought much about maintaining, or improving your balance, now is a good time to start.

In order to have good balance, we rely on the information given to our brain from three main body systems: our ears, the nerve endings in our muscles, and our eyes (vision).

As children, we develop balance climbing trees (where I spent many hours climbing up, up, up to collect long forgotten bird nests), riding our bikes, walking and running on uneven surfaces and playing sport and games. As adults, we seldom think about balance and rarely practice it.

When was the last time you climbed a jungle gym with your kids, walked along the slim surface of a forest log or tried to balance on one leg whilst brushing your teeth with the opposite hand (I love this one)?

The eyes have it


Your sense of vision is a big part of good balance. Vision works hand in hand with the inner ear to maintain balance. If you move your eyes or take vision out of the equation altogether, it’s harder to balance. You might be surprised how challenging it is to simply stand with your eyes closed. We play around a lot with removing vision during some of the more advanced balance exercises in our posture school.

Better balance means better coordination, POSTURE, core strength, agility and athletic skill. You even burn calories using balance training!

Balance training is good for people of every age, so don’t be afraid to start incorporating balance exercises into your daily workouts. Everyone can benefit from balance training and even better if our ability to balance keeps our brains young, sharp and disease-free!

Try walking off-piste


Lost Your Balance? Try Motor Skills Juggling | Posture Doctor

As children, we develop balance, climbing trees, walking and running on unsteady surfaces, playing sports, games etc. As adults, we seldom think about balance and rarely practice it. When was the last time you climbed a jungle gym, walked over a log or tried to balance on one leg while brushing your teeth?!

Most people don’t spend any time thinking about their balance until it’s too late – when they actually start swaying when they walk; or worse, fall down and injure themselves. But balance isn’t just a concern for the elderly who are more prone to falls. Balance training is important for anyone who wants to age well, avoid future falls, improve athletic ability, coordination, stamina and overall fitness and health.

If you haven’t thought much about maintaining – or improving – your balance, now is a good time to start. Balance is a component of health that you should never overlook. Without it, all of the weight training and exercise in the world won’t help you.

In order to stay upright, constant communication occurs between your brain, eyes, ears and the nerve endings in your muscles.

As children, we develop balance, climbing trees, walking and running on unsteady surfaces, playing sports, games etc. As adults, we seldom think about balance and rarely practice it. When was the last time you climbed a jungle gym, walked over a log or tried to balance on one leg while brushing your teeth?!

Our vision works in tandem with the inner ear to maintain balance. If you take vision out of the equation altogether – by closing your eyes – it’s harder to balance because visual cues from our eyes give us information about where we are in space.

Inside the inner ear is a fluid-filled tube called the semi-circular canal and the movement of fluid within this canal alerts your central nervous system as to the position of your head.

So how is your balance? Let’s find out …

The 30-second balance test


Ideally, find a partner to time you, because your eyes will be closed. It’s also a good idea to have someone close by in case you fall.

  1. Stand barefoot on a hard floor. Now close your eyes.
  2. Bend one knee and lift the foot – if you’re left-handed, stand on your left leg and lift the right foot just 6″ off the floor; do the opposite if you’re right-handed.
  3. Ask the person helping you to time how long you can hold that position without wobbling or opening your eyes. Use the timer on your phone.
  4. Repeat the test 3 times, and then add up your total time and use the average. (For example, if test 1 was 4 seconds, test 2 was 6 seconds, and test 3 was 8 seconds, you’d add up 4+6+8 to get 18. Divide by 3, and your average balance time is 6 seconds.)

It isn’t surprising to see that the number of seconds decreases with age. In the 30-35 year group, for example, the average eyes-closed balance time is 22 seconds. For 50-year-olds, it’s 9 seconds, and 70-year-olds just 4 seconds. That’s because…

Balance declines with age


As we get older, our eyesight tends to diminish. This normal change in the eye’s focusing ability is likely the first step affecting our balance. Our muscles also age, and this atrophy (shrinkage) of muscle tissue makes reaction times slower. But there’s good news, because…

You can improve balance at any age


17 trials involving 4305 participants concluded that regularly engaging in well-designed balance exercise programs, even in the very old and frail, proved to be effective for fall prevention, and there is now ample evidence that this type of program improves balance ability.1

Try this


Practice balancing on one leg every day and several times a day. Brush your teeth on one leg first thing in the morning. Wash your hands at work, balancing on one leg. Wash the dishes on one leg (but please don’t break the dishes). Blow dry your hair balancing on one leg, and have family competitions if you have little ones – who can balance the longest? 


Don’t wait until you notice that you are starting to sway when you walk. Trust me when I say this – if you are over 50, it’s coming. Sigh … isn’t aging fun?!

References

  1. El-Khoury, Fabienne, et al. “The effect of fall prevention exercise programmes on fall incused injuries in community dwelling older adults: systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” British Medical Journal. 29 October 2013; 347:f6234. Web. http://www.bmj.com/content/347/bmj.f6234 

Dog Posture: Healthy Touch Techniques | Posture Doctor

When I sold my practice in the UK in 2013 and moved back to Canada, one of my goals was to adopt a dog and move to the country. It was a part of my big juicy goal to practice online full-time as a posture doctor.

When I sold my practice in the UK in 2013 and moved back to Canada, one of my goals was to adopt a dog and move to the country. It was a part of my big juicy goal to practice online full-time as a posture doctor.

Because I always try to practice what I preach, I wanted to make sure that I was posturecising daily and spending as much time outdoors as possible.

In 2015, I’d been checking dog adoption sites regularly, when I came across Milo on Speaking of Dogs.



I melted! How could Milo be available for adoption?! His description said he was loving, good with cats, dogs, children, a non-barker and active. Whattttt??? And then I saw WHY he was still available.

Milo was still in foster care and ‘not yet ready for adoption’. Milo had been taken from his owners (he was 3 years old) as he was underweight, limping and neglected. Speaking of Dogs fostered Milo into a family home, while several specialist vets investigated his limp – including x-rays. He was diagnosed with a dislocated right hip. His profile suggested he ‘may need a future surgery’ in the event of arthritis.

I went to meet Milo and he was pretty darn cute, but not very focused and I was worried that at just 9 lbs – he still had weight to gain – with a dislocated hip, he wouldn’t be an active enough dog for me.

The vets decided not to operate. The dislocation likely happened early in Milo’s life, and the dislocated hip had formed a new joint higher up in the pelvis. Essentially, Milo now has a short right leg with an associated lumbar scoliosis (curvature). EXACTLY LIKE ME!

Milo’s Pelvic X-Ray

I was still unsure about Milo – not because of a potential hip replacement down the road, but because he seemed unfocused and I was concerned he wouldn’t be active enough with his dislocated hip.

That weekend when I told my mum I wasn’t sure about the adoption, she said: “Oh, but who will adopt him if you don’t?” Well, as you can imagine, that finished me off. A week later, Milo came home!

Oh, and by the way, Milo is the fastest, most athletic dog I’ve ever loved. He is my 4th dog, but my 1st small dog. He is just brilliant and I adore him. I think the feeling is mutual.

So why am I telling you this story? Well, besides being a huge part of my life, and making several camio appearances in my posture videos, I believe Milo’s incredibly active lifestyle, excellent health and our shared bond, is largely due to the Healthy Touch Techniques I use with him ever day.


Healthy Touch Techniques


Recently, I had the idea to share my touch techniques with other small dog owners  – not necessarily dogs with medical issues like Milo, but small dog owners who want to learn how to touch, move and handle their dogs to improve their health and deepen their bonding for a long and happy life. In other words, I thought it would be amazing to create a Doggie Posture Course for you and your small dog; to help unleash your dog’s potential.

I’m only at the research phase right now – that is how I begin all of my courses. I’m considering doing something very different with this course – opening it up to a group of beta student testers – 100 students that will get in at a massively discounted price, in exchange for feedback as I build the course.

Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think about this. Would you be interested in such a course? Would you mind a small diversion from people posture for a little bit? Do you have any issues with your small dog that you think this course might help to address? Care to share a picture of your little guy?

Please leave your comments below – I’m keeping an eye out for an enthusiastic group of small dog lovers – Is that you?!

Further Resources: Dog Posture – Small Dog Healthy Touch Techniques

Yours in good doggie posture,

Paula and Milo x

Forward Head Posture – Alzheimer’s & Stroke | Posture Doctor

Is your forward head posture capable of making you sick? 

Rene Cailliet, an American born physician of French ancestry, was one of the pioneers in physical rehabilitation and is well known for his books on musculoskeletal medicine.

Rene Cailliet, an American born physician of French ancestry, was one of the pioneers in physical rehabilitation and is well known for his books on musculoskeletal medicine. He says:

You can realign your entire body by moving your head … your head held in a forward position can pull your entire body out of line.

He goes on to explain that the vital lung capacity is reduced as much as 30% with forward head posture.

Forward head posture also causes compression in the upper neck joints (which causes pain and irritation). In order to prevent your forward head from falling toward your chest, your muscles sustain continual contraction, which causes nerve entrapment and artery compression. It isn’t hard to see that there exists the potential for neurological and vascular complications as a result of forward head posture.



Further Resources: Forward Head Posture: Cause & Cure

Reverse Neck Curve – What Causes a Cervical Kyphosis? | Posture Doctor

When the neck curve kinks the wrong way, it pushes the head forward. With the head pushed forward, the lower spine is more prominent and vulnerable.

If you know you have forward head posture and also a hump on the back on your neck, you may benefit from x-ray investigation to rule out a reversed neck curve, also known as cervical kyphosis. When the neck curve kinks the wrong way, it pushes the head forward. With the head pushed forward, the lower spine is more prominent and vulnerable.

Some of my posture pupils complain about fatty neck hump and explain that it has a hard bony feel to it. What they are often feeling, is the kinked region of the neck. If this structural deviation has been there long enough, the body may lay down fat, in an effort to protect the spine – or at least that’s the way I like to simplify and explain a complicated process to my students.

If you’ve suffered long term symptoms that may include: headaches, stiff and/or painful neck, dizziness, arm and hand tingling or numbness, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, round shoulders, teeth clenching, TMJ dysfunction or anxiety, and you’ve had any sort of past trauma that might have affected your neck – car accident (over 20mph) , a fall from a height as a child, off a horse, out of a swing, down a flight of stairs – you may find this video relevant.



Further Resources: Forward Head Posture: Cause & Cure

Spinal Anomalies (Like This) Can Cause Forward Head Posture | Posture Doctor

Congenital vertebral anomalies are malformations of the spine that you are born with. In some cases these spinal defects can deform the alignment of your spine affecting your posture, spinal cord and health and well-being.

Congenital vertebral anomalies are malformations of the spine that you are born with. In some cases these spinal defects can deform the alignment of your spine affecting your posture, spinal cord and health and well-being.



Forward Head Posture >> Learn More

What Causes Forward Head Posture & How Severe Is Yours?

Understand the specific cause of Forward Head Posture; use that knowledge to begin the appropriate mirror-image exercises and know when to seek treatment and/or further medical investigation.

Understand the specific cause of Forward Head Posture; use that knowledge to begin the appropriate mirror-image exercises and know when to seek treatment and/or further medical investigation.

Further Learning: Forward Head Posture: Cause & Cure



Core Workout | Best Abs Exercise You Can Do in Your Car

Traffic jams are frustrating! In this lecture we use the time you are stuck in your car (maybe during a traffic jam) to strengthen your abs.

Traffic jams are frustrating! In this lecture we use the time you are stuck in your car (maybe during a traffic jam) to strengthen your abs.

Further Resources: Travel Exercise – Best Travel Workouts for the Car or Plane


Hump Back | Neck Hump, Buffalo Hump, Dowager’s Hump or Kyphosis?

One very common euphemism is to call a neck hump a buffalo hump. I prefer the term neck hump, but they do mean the same thing; except the hump on an actual Buffalo consists of about 70 Ib of muscle used to move snow!

There are a lot of euphemisms used in medicine. I find euphemisms, when it comes to our health, patronizing.

I think my patients can handle the truth, so I don’t intentionally soften my words to ease a diagnosis. 

One very common euphemism is to call a neck hump a buffalo hump. I prefer the term neck hump, but they do mean the same thing; except the hump on an actual Buffalo consists of about 70 Ib of muscle used to move snow! The neck humps on humans – if due to a structural change in the neck – consist of fatty tissue not muscle. So the correct euphemism for neck hump is Buffalo hump, but I just don’t like it!

Further ResourcesThe Top 25 Posture Blogs to Follow in 2018