Well that was a bit of a naughty come-hither title, wasn’t it? Sorry to disappoint, but I’m talking about posture today.
(Oh, and before I get going on this, I just want to assure people that I am not pregnant. Really, I’m not. I didn’t cheat on my husband, either. It was an April Fools joke. Relax!)
I’m getting quite alarmed at the amount of people I know who are developing a pronounced stoop to their shoulders. Even a hump-back, in a couple extreme cases. My voice coach is one of them, and it’s alarming because he’s still quite a young man. Another is someone we sing with who I’ve mentioned on here before (an extremely obnoxious someone who I’m not terribly fond of). She’s 60 or 61 now, so I can only imagine how crippled she’ll be as an old woman if she’s already getting a hump at her age.
What I’m really worried about is our youth, though! Can you look at a crowd of kids and find a single one who stands erect, with good posture? Hard to find. The Teen is in cadets, so they stand at attention quite a bit, and know good posture. I’m hoping that she keeps that in mind as she ages. I have been known to come up behind my kids (and the Hubby) and poke them in the spine as a reminder to sit up straight. It bothers me! Don’t even get me started on too-heavy back packs. Go through your kids’ backpacks and make sure they’re only carrying what they absolutely need to have in there.
My neck is aching from a pinched nerve as I write this, which probably was the reason I got to thinking about the subject. I have a great office chair, and on it I have a firm, round, bolster-shaped support cushion that I set at just below my shoulder blades to force me to sit up straight. Without it I find myself slumping as I work, and my shoulders and the middle of my back get quite sore. I also stretch and move around quite a bit because I sit here far too many hours a day most of the time.
Do I need to worry about you too? When you started reading this post, did you find yourself suddenly straightening up? I hope so.
How can you tell if you or someone you love has bad posture? Here are some signs:
Rounded or uneven shoulders
Unusually flat back
Neck craned too far forward
Chin thrust out
Now here are some disturbing facts about how bad posture can affect your health:
Limited flexibility and range of motion
Loss of vital lung capacity
Distorted skeletal alignment
Joint stiffness and pain
Reduction of blood and oxygen to the brain
Wear and tear on connective tissue
Predisposition to injury
I’d be willing to bet that more than one of you suffers from at least a couple of those symptoms.
Meanwhile, good posture makes you look taller, thinner, and more self-assured. It makes your clothes fit – and look – better on you. It reduces headaches and gives you more energy. And hello… if slumping actually takes away vital blood and oxygen to your brain, don’t you think you’ll think better too??
So… what do you do?
Why is it that it always comes back to that dreaded should-be-four-letters-but-isn’t word? You got it; Exercise.
Yeah, but it’s not as simple as that, either. First and foremost, you need to actually be aware of your body, and how it’s positioned. Keep that awareness, and make adjustments to your normal movements and resting positions during the day. Stretch your back and neck muscles, and work on toning those supporting muscles – you need them to be strong in order to hold you in the right position. Too often those under-used muscles are the reason for the poor posture in the first place. Google has tons of posture-friendly exercises just waiting for you to find them.
Oh sure, I’m a fine one to talk, sitting here with pain radiating down my arm (the right one, and yes I’m sure I’m not having a heart attack). Even with my groovy chair and supporting cushion I know I spend far too much time in this position, and it takes a toll on me. I’m also under a lot of stress usually with my businesses and personal obligations, and that isn’t good for the tension in my neck and shoulders either. (Plus email from a certain someone who really should just call me from now on and not mess with my head, dammit! You know who you are. And yes, I still love you and you well know it.) And that “E” word… well, I don’t get enough of that either. So maybe I’m talking about it today to motivate all of us into getting more aware of our posture, and to actually do something about it.
Ok, so do something about it!