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Posture Perfect

How Not to Be a Bent Over Little Lady or Man

by Elizabeth Phinney

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The main reason individuals have poor posture is simply due to laziness and a lack of paying attention.

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Try standing up straight against a wall—heels touching, arms by your side, shoulders back and touching the wall, chin level (head may or may not reach the wall.)  Stay there for 30 seconds then step away from the wall.  How does that feel?  That’s what standing up straight feels like—and it should feel normal.

Aside from improved appearance, one reason for maintaining good posture is that by being round-shouldered, slouched or bent over, pressure is inadvertently being placed on the body’s organs as there is less space in the abdominal cavity. Also, muscle tissue in the upper back and neck are being over stretched, the front shoulder muscles become much tighter and more difficult to stretch out and the spine becomes compromised (the inner spine is compressed while the outer spine is stretched).  Even with all that going on, the good news, in most cases, is that poor posture is reversible or at least can be improved with some easy to do stretches over an extended period of time.

Another muscle group involved in poor posture are the hip flexors and the psoas.  These are the muscles that run from the front of the thigh to the hip, the pelvis and the spine.  The more we sit, the more they are contracted.  Over time, if these muscles are not getting stretched, they will tighten up. As they tighten up, the torso will tend to tilt forward.  That’s where the bent over little old lady (or man) comes in.  Surprisingly, this can also cause chronic lower back pain.  To relieve this from happening, make sure that the upper thigh and hip cavity are being stretched. 

The sooner focus is brought to one’s posture and steps are taken to rectify any issues that already exist, the better the chances are of not ending up bent over as we age.

           

Elizabeth Phinney is owner of Fitness After Forty Five, in Little Compton, and creator of the BodSpir fitness program. For more information, visit FitnessAfterFortyFive.com.

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