When I was still an unruly whippersnapper, I was pestered to, “sit up straight,” and, “stand up tall.” My dad, a football coach and biology/anatomy instructor, probably had more than my outward appearance in mind, when he gave me these posture-boosting cues. Clearly, he didn’t appreciate my mimicry of the decidedly careless, drowsy poses conveyed by my Alt-Rock idols.
There are 2 fundamental causes of postural dysfunction. Broadly speaking, these stem from either a physical or psychological origin. Whether you feel overwhelmed and stressed, or you simply have bad habits, it can be tough to, “keep your chin up.”
Your neck and back have a lot of work to do…all day, every day. Keeping your hefty braincase from toppling around like a bobble-head is burdensome and takes constant coordination, strength and endurance from the muscles of your back and neck. Once these muscles begin to lose wind, they drop your head and shoulders forward, like a marionette with its string cut. Other, less efficient muscles step in to help, but theirs is a losing battle.
Sitting for hours at a desk is particularly troublesome for your physique. This is just one example of how the sedentary lifestyle ultimately violates human health. It’s a good idea to take frequent movement/stretch breaks. Better yet, quit your horrible, life-sucking job and get outdoors. Keep in mind that even during walking, running and sleeping, postural habits like slouching take lots of practice to break.
Strengthening the muscles that keep your shoulder blades stable is a necessary step to improve your posture.
The most basic form of scapular retraction requires no equipment. Perform this exercise frequently throughout your day for sets of 15 reps.
Correct anatomical posture involves keeping the ears, shoulders and hips in line. You don’t need to look like the Queen’s personal security guard, so keep it a bit relaxed. The human spine is designed to have a soft, “S,” shape.
6 cues for good posture:
1. Keep your weight on the balls of the feet, not on the heels. Don’t lock your knees.
2. Keep your feet about shoulder width apart.
3. Let your arms hang at your sides.
4. Tuck your chin slightly and keep your head level. (Be sure your head is balanced over your neck and spine.)
5. Stand tall, with your shoulders slightly back and down.
6. Stand against a wall with your head, shoulders and buttocks touching wall. (Keep this in mind as you use your mobile electronics.)
Obviously, if you stand and walk like a chimp on a Nyquil bender, people will make assumptions about your cognitive capacity, emotional stability, and maybe even your bodily hygiene. While avoiding social repudiation is typically wise, so is staying out of musculoskeletal pain. Your muscles and joints are well designed and robust, but they can support your wilted carriage only briefly before they bail on you, leaving you in discomfort.