Trade Secrets Vol 3 iss 7 Nov

Page 97

growing up. And, though there is no guarantee his persistence was effective, I do have pretty good posture today. It is definitely something that I work on in many different ways to maintain.

One reason for maintaining good posture is the most obvious one: it looks really awful when someone is round-shouldered or bent over. You want to tell them, “stand up straight!” Unfortunately, most of them can’t. However, short of damage to the spine, osteoporosis, potential scapula issues, there really is no reason why people have poor posture. Truth be told, it is often based simply on laziness and lack of paying attention. In most cases, however, poor posture is reversible or at least can be improved.

To check to see what correct posture feels like, try this experiment. Stand up straight against a wall – put your heels against the baseboard (not of a heating unit, but of the wall) and have your feet hip width apart and parallel. Pull your shoulders back, with both of them against the wall. If your buttocks is large, you may find this difficult to do, so do the best you can, but do NOT lean back into the wall, either with your shoulders or your head. If your head cannot touch the wall, push it back as far as you can, KEEPING YOUR CHIN LEVEL. Hold this position for about 20 – 30 seconds. Now, keeping everything exactly in the same position, take one step forward and bring the other foot up next to the first foot, hip width apart. Evaluate how you feel: is this comfortable for you? If you performed the movements correctly, the goal is that you are now in “perfect posture.” This is where your body should be with every step you take. Would you be able to do that? Chances are, the position is a bit uncomfortable. There is a sense of awkwardness to your stance. If not, congratulations! You are rare. Keep doing what you are doing regarding your posture! If, however, you feel that things are a bit off, here are some suggestions that you can do to help offset the damage that has been done impairing your posture. The easiest thing to do is to get a broomstick, golf club or any stick that is around 3 feet long. Place it inside your elbows, behind your back. (See this demonstrated in September’s issue.) Start with one or two minutes, then, as time goes on, slowly increase the amount of

time you are allowing. The longer you do this for, the more effective it becomes. But, remember, too much too soon can only lead to injury. The main purpose of this “exercise” is to provide the shoulders and upper back with muscle memory. The muscles involved actually hold memory, so when movements are repeated over and over again, the muscles get re-trained to perform in a certain way. And, depending on the flexibility or lack thereof in your anterior shoulder muscles and upper chest, this will also help to stretch those muscles. Keep in mind, when the muscles in the back and shoulders have been overstretched, which is what usually happens with poor posture, the front shoulder muscles become much tighter and more difficult to stretch. Lie on a bed or floor with the arms straight out to the sides, palms to the ceiling. If too easy, slide the arms along the floor towards a “V” position off the shoulders. The more you slide the arms up, the more of a stretch you will feel. This position should be held for an increasing amount of time as time goes on so that you can help stretch and re-train the inner shoulder muscles to be more flexible. One more muscle group to be aware of as you age are your hip flexors. These are the muscles that run from your upper thigh to your hip. The more we sit, the more they are contracted. Over time, as these muscles are not getting stretched, they will tighten up. As they tighten up, our torso will tend to tilt forward. To relieve this from happening, you need to make sure that your upper thigh is stretched. To find out how to do this most efficient stretch, catch September’s issue of the 5 most effective stretches. Keep in mind, your body is getting older on a daily basis. But by giving back to it with some simple things like maintaining good posture, you help your body age more healthfully and more gracefully!