Yesterday I saw a woman, younger than me, with an exaggeratedly rounded upper back, sloped forward shoulders, and extreme forward head carriage. She seemed otherwise healthy, although I suppose it’s true that she could have some osteo problem not discernible to me. But since she just looked like a health young person with terrible posture, in the privacy of my mind what I really wanted to do was run over, grab her by the shoulders, shake her and shout: POSTURE! FIX IT NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE!
Your posture matters. How you carry your body on a daily basis matters for your health and wellness. It affects your balance, your muscle strength, energy flow through the body, and the image you present to the world. Good posture says: I am strong. I am confident. I am capable. And if your posture is terrible in your youth, it’s only going to become exaggerated in your older age. You’ll become like this:
This is not inevitable! You can go into your golden years upright!
Here’s what good posture is and is not:
And here are some things you can do to improve your posture:
- Become aware. Pay attention to it. Set a reminder in your phone or write yourself a post-it note. Shoulders back, head directly above the shoulder, chin level, hips neutral. Be as tall as you can be.
- Sit less. Sitting for too many hours in the day, especially in front of a screen, shortens the hip flexors, tightens the hamstrings, and encourages rolled-forward shoulders. Stand up; move around. And make sure your workspace is ergonomically appropriate. Hunching down over a screen is a no-no.
- Do yoga. Yogis know about posture. Asanas are postures. Yoga helps stretch tendons and muscles, improves balance and strength, improves concentration and flexibility, and decreases injury risk. Inflexibility worsens bad posture. Yoga is a great posture lesson.
- Weight train. The number one indicator of aging is muscle tissue loss. Tell your muscles to stay on your bones by working them. Body-weight exercises are easy to incorporate into your life in the comfort of your living room.
- Get chiropractic therapy regularly. A good chiropractor can help bring balance to the body and ensure structural alignment.
- Stretch your chest muscles daily. Tight chest muscles roll the shoulders forward, leading to slumping. Stand in a door frame with your hands gripping the frame at hip level, then allow your body to lean forward, opening the chest.
- Stretch your hip flexors (the front of the hips, above the quadriceps) and hamstrings daily. Runner’s lunge in a good hip flexor stretch. Forward fold is a good hamstring stretch. Flexibility in these muscles allows for proper posture.
For healthy aging, practice good posture NOW. It may take some getting used to, especially if your posture is, like most people’s, terrible. It will pay off when you are eighty and can see something other than the floor.
Also, I hear Valor is back in stock. We don’t call Valor “chiropractor in a bottle” for nothing. It’s great to apply to the spine before and after chiropractic manipulation, and anytime you can’t make it to the chiropractor.