Straight Talk on Posture
Need more energy? It could be as close as the top of your head, says orthopedist Gail Dubinsky, M.D.
Studies show good posture can enhance your appearance, confidence, and self-esteem. It also relieves overcrowding of internal organs caused by slouching.
"Hold your head high, lengthen your spine, and open your chest to create space for all your internal organs," says Dr. Dubinsky, a specialist in soft tissue orthopedic injuries in Sebastopol, Calif. Your entire body benefits, and you can use this "found" energy to pursue activities you love.
We've all tried to stop slouching, but we can be deflected by sedentary lives, high stress, long commutes, and hours hunched over computers. In simpler times, good posture was easy. Most people lived active, physical lives that developed strong muscles and bones essential to good posture.
Take a deep breath. Become aware of your posture. If you're sitting, align your ears, shoulders, and hips. If standing, align your knees and ankles. Take another deep breath and enjoy the healthy feeling. Resolve to do this daily.
Good posture helps your lungs expand fully when you take a deep breath. It lets your heart pump at full capacity, your blood flow smoothly, and your digestive tract stay on track.
Once good posture becomes a habit, annoying aches and pains may vanish from shoulders, necks, and backs.
Practice makes perfect
Good posture relies on strong muscles. Try these exercises after a brief warm-up, such as walking up two flights of stairs:
Chest stretch: Interlace fingers behind neck. Extend elbows to side. Inhale. Tighten stomach muscles and bring elbows together in front. Exhale. Keep fingers laced and squeeze shoulder blades so elbows return to side. Repeat 10 to 12 times.
Triangle stretch: Sit cross-legged. Tighten stomach muscles. Cross arms behind back by dropping one arm over shoulder and reaching other arm up from behind. Clasp hands together or bridge gap with a sock. Hold 30 seconds. Reverse arms and legs, then try again. Repeat three times.