When sitting or standing, you often hear parents tell their slouching children “ sit up straight” or “don’t slouch” but are these sayings effective ways to maintain good posture? Probably not since a lot of us are unaware when we have poor posture to begin with.
What is good Posture? Well good posture refers to having “three natural curves” in the spine from the cervical to pelvic regions. Basically it is when your head is resting right above your shoulders or “standing at attention”, as if you were in the army. As we age, it is quite common to see people who are slouched over or not upright due to issues ranging from osteoporosis to muscular weaknesses or tightness. Having poor posture isn’t just aesthetically unpleasing but it can affect balance, which for seniors in particular can lead to the threat of falling.
So how do we improve our posture other than tell people to sit up straight? Below are 2 ways you can do it.
- Strength training – I know it sounds simplistic but strength training has great effects on posture. The problems many people face is they either don’t work out or never strengthen their postural muscles. When strengthening your postural muscles the three muscular areas that require the most focus are behind the neck, the spinal column and core.
If you have ever seen someone that looks like his or her head is drifting forward (called “forward head posture”), much of this is due to weaknesses in the muscles behind the neck. By purposely giving yourself a “double chin”, it forces you to strengthen your rear neck muscles.
Squeezing your shoulder blades together is great for strengthening the muscles down your spinal column; this helps pull your shoulders back and reduce the chances of you developing a hunched back.
The core (stomach and back) stabilizes all movement in the body. Weight training routines and Pilate’s type workouts are great ways to increase your core strength to keep you standing tall.
- Stretching- Most people never stretch their chest or neck muscles. Typically the chest muscles are stretched best when putting your arms on a doorframe and stepping through it so your chest opens up and is fully stretched. For neck stretching, letting your head fall to either side is a great way to stretch but make sure you do both sides. Also when stretching the neck and chest muscles it is important to hold the stretches for at least 30 seconds to a minute so that you get the full effects of the stretch.
Poor Posture doesn’t have to be inevitable; with a few simple techniques we can all remain tall as if someone yelled at us “sit up straight” or “don’t slouch.”
About the Author: Eric Daw is an active aging specialist and the owner of Omni Fitt. Omni Fitt is dedicated to the wellbeing, health and quality of life of people aged 65 and over. Eric motivates and empowers the older adult population to take responsibility for their independence, health and fitness through motivating and positive coaching experiences.