Improve your Posture Through Exercise

February 21, 2009

You are never too old to improve your posture

Father and SonBy Susan Manning

“Don’t slouch!”, “stand tall!”, “bring your shoulders back and suck in your stomach!”….we have all heard it as kids and I’m sure said it as adults but believe it or not there are health benefits to it and you are never too old to improve your posture.

Research suggests that many spine problems are preventable as many are a result of poor posture and improper body mechanics, which subject the spine to abnormal stresses. Poor posture i.e.: flat back, rounded shoulders, sunken chest and forward head are only some of the poor body positions that can lead to back, neck and shoulder pain which often relates to headaches. The new term we use now and you may have heard is “neutral spine”.

What is Neutral Spine?

This is the postural position where the spine is in the best alignment and the body is able to function in its strongest, most balanced position, decreasing the risk of injury.

Tips to Find Your Neutral Spine

1. Think of a thread running right through your body from the top to the bottom and when you pull on the thread it pulls you up and realigns the body.

2. Stand against a wall with your heels, buttocks, shoulder blades and head against the wall. Shoulders back and eyes looking straight forward. Tighten your abdominal muscles so your back doesn’t go into a big arch.

3. Imagine a plumb line (or use a real one). The line would run from the hole in your ear, through the center of the shoulder, hip and knee right down to the ankle.

Just thinking about your posture will help you to stand taller. It will feel awkward at first but over time and practice this will become your new “normal” and your poor posture will then feel uncomfortable.

Stretching tight muscles (often chest and hamstrings but not limited to) and strengthening weak ones (upper / middle back and postural muscles) will greatly help you to bring your body into neutral and keep it there. Working with a trainer or finding a good source for information such as “Impowerage” exercises for Older Adults will help you get started in the right direction…….UP!

About the Author: Susan Manning is a BCRPA TFL, ACE, ACSM, TWIST certified Advanced Health & Fitness Specialist in BC. She is Dr. Carolyn Anderson’s co-author of It’s Never Too Late To Be Fit, a comprehensive guide for older adult’s fitness.

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  • Andrea Schmook

    I work out with a personal trainer at 24 Hour Fitness Hollywood. She has me doing the posture exercise above 5 times a day for 1 minute each time. I also do TRX training, resistance machines, hand weights, and other. In fact, growing up in Alaska and recently moving to Los Angeles, I never learned to swim and she taught me how in less than hours. Thanks for posting this as I think many people need to do this exercise.

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