Balanced Living | Jan. 29, 2015

Going straight (ditching bad posture, that is)

 By Nate Whitten, Jan. 29, 2015.

When you are looking at your profile in the mirror, checking out that bubble butt and gauging how much tighter you need to suck in that tummy, have you noticed a little more slouch than you used to see?

A common complaint of people of all shapes, sizes and budding body builders and drag queens with towering wigs, alike is the dreaded hunch around the shoulders and neck that seems to creep up on us all as we begin to age out of the twink generation.

What happened to our towering torso that one allowed us to see over the heads of the trolls to the handsome boy across the dance floor?

Some experts believe one’s posture is psychological, a reflection of your attitude toward the world. Others see it as a byproduct of prolonged time in spine-unfriendly positions, such as sitting at a computer.

Mechanically, poor posture is the result of a strained balancing act involving your muscles, spine and nervous system. The late Dr. Vladimir Janda, an authority on musculoskeletal pain, found that certain muscles become inhibited when their antagonist muscles tighten. Middle-back muscles weaken when the pectorals are clenched; the front muscles of the neck weaken when posterior neck muscles stiffen. This imbalance throws off the curve of the spine, which grows worse as we move through middle age.

Right now, you’re probably saying, “WTF! Just tell me how to fix it!” Because this dreaded droop is reversible, here are some additions to your regular exercise routine that will have you standing tall in no time at all.

Move 1: Shoulder Rolls

Stand or sit in a comfortable position. As you inhale, raise your shoulders and shoulder blades to your ears. As you exhale, pull your shoulder blades down and together. Repeat 5 to 10 times.

Move 2: Chest Release

Raise your arms to just below shoulder height with palms facing forward. Exhale as you slowly rotate both hands at the wrists so your fingers point slightly behind you. Take three to five breaths.

Move 3: Pyramid

Step your left foot back so it rests fully on the floor. Square your hips. With your legs straight, clasp your forearms behind your back, exhale, and lean forward from your hips (don’t round your spine). Take three to five breaths and rise. Switch sides.

Move 4: Chair Pose

Stand and raise your arms in front to shoulder height. Contract your arm muscles. Exhale as you bend your knees (no more than 90 degrees) and keep them over your toes. Take two breaths and stand up. Repeat three times.

Move 5: Standing Side Bend

Touch your left hand to the side of your head. Ground both feet and guide your head to the right until you feel a stretch along the left side of your body and shoulder. Take three to five breaths. Switch sides.

Now that you’re as straight as a Baptist minister on Sunday morning, here’s how to maintain that perfect posture so the only thing bent is your freaky fetish (no one wants you to give that up)!

Working it at work:

Your computer screen should be positioned so the middle of the screen is at eye level.

Each time you step away from your desk clasp your hands together and hold them up in front of you, pushing your shoulders forward and drawing the head back, looking up at the ceiling. This stretches your muscles out and pulls them back into alignment.

Don’t cross your legs while sitting at your desk, it can cause the hips to move out of line, which can result in problems with your upper back.

Working it at the club:

Make sure your weight is evenly distributed on your feet when you stand along the wall waiting for Mr. Right to sweep you off your feet. Make sure the weight of your upper body sits on the hips squarely, rather than on the lower back by ensuring the pelvis is tucked underneath you. This ensures you don’t overarch your back.

Try to stand as tall as you possibly can, imagining your head is touching the ceiling.

If you suffer from low self-esteem or extreme shyness, fake it till you make it. Draw the belly button into the spine. Pretend to be confident, it’ll get you what you’re looking for and you can go back to being shy the next morning.

Don’t let sagging shoulders make you look or feel frumpy (or older than you want to be). A few stretches and some preventative action will keep you standing head and shoulders above the rest – literally.


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