Good posture. It's the back bone of looking good, feeling great and staying functional.
You're probably aware of the importance of posture. Yet women over 50 often fall short when it comes to having a healthy posture. And forced attempts to correct posture, especially at this stage in life, can sometimes do more harm than good.
(Picture Sara Meeks Seminars Copyright 2001 Re-printed with permission).
The figure on the far left is standing in neutral or good posture. In this position, your body is in balance and...
Most of us attempt to stand at attention when trying to correct our posture. Try this exercise...
Did walking around the room in an attention posture feel more natural? Did it take less energy? Was it easier to move that way? Good posture allows you to move with less effort. Trying to maintain an attention posture is not the way to correct bad posture.
You will stand taller as your posture improves. But straight posture is a bit of a misnomer. A properly aligned spine has 3 natural curves...
A completely straight back when standing or sitting is NOT good posture. Correct posture maintains your spine's natural curves.
If your standing posture is less than optimum try these tips...
If you have neck, back or shoulder issues and spend a fair amount of time sitting be sure to assess your posture.
Tips for active neutral sitting ...
You may only be able to maintain this position for a minute at a time. That's OK. As you practice it over time your back muscles will strengthen and you'll be able to maintain it for longer periods.
If your spend most of your day in front of a computer, learn all you can about correct computer posture and placement.
Keeping your body in proper alignment helps you in many ways. Your bones, ligaments and muscles remain well-balanced and free to move correctly. Your lungs have the space they need to fully expand. Your pelvic organs are well supported by your abdominal muscles and function better. Correct head and neck position even makes chewing easier.
To better understand the importance of good posture try these moves. Don't do them if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia...
First practice bad posture. In standing, shift your head forward, stick your chin out, round your shoulders and slump. Then...
Now try the movements with good posture. See yourself 2 inches taller than you really are. Don't force it, just see it in your minds eye and feel it in your body. Keeping this image, repeat the movements ...
See the difference. Did you feel how much easier you move and breathe when you are in proper alignment?
A sedentary life and poor habits of sitting, standing, moving and lying can cause bad posture at any age. As you get older the discs in your neck and back begin to dehydrate and your spine becomes more rigid, increasing your postural problems.
As women we also face a higher risk of developing certain diseases...
Osteoporosis is an excessive loss of bone density causing bones to break much more easily. Women are affected 4 times more often than men with this disease.
Scoliosis is a side to side curvature of the spine which affects 1 in 9 women. It can be a cause of chronic neck and back pain.
Frozen shoulder is exactly what it sounds like. The shoulder may initially become very painful and then loses the ability to move. This syndrome is found twice as often in women as in men. It usually occurs when women are between the ages of 40 and 70.
Women also live longer than men, giving our bodies more time to develop balance and degeneration issues. Good posture helps maintain balance and reduces the impact of stress on your body.
You can't reverse time. But with good posture and an active lifestyle you can maintain and even improve your body's ability to function - even as you age. Why not enjoy those extra years?
What if you've already been diagnosed with osteoporosis, scoliosis or a frozen shoulder? Schedule a consultation with a physical therapist. She or he can provide you with appropriate treatment and help you develop a postural and physical conditioning program to meet your needs.
One excellent resource for women wanting to achieve good posture is the book Walk Tall! by Sara Meeks, PT, MS, GCS
Correcting bad posture