YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT … STAND-UP STRAIGHT By Cord Prettyman, MPT
If I heard it once from my mother, I heard it a thousand times. “Stand up straight,” she would say. Well, as it turns out – blessed with the God-given innate wisdom of mothers – she was spot-on, even if she wasn’t aware of all the negative consequences of poor posture.
What is good posture and why is it important? I turned to the American Chiropractic Association to see what they had to say about the topic. But first, a disclaimer of bias. I’m an avid fan of chiropractic. It has been an integral part of my health and wellness protocol since 1975.
The ACA defines posture as, “The position in which we hold our bodies, while standing, sitting or lying down.” They continue, “Good posture is the correct alignment of body parts supported by the right amount of muscle tension against gravity.” Most of us don’t think about what we have to do to maintain good posture. Instead, certain muscles groups do it for us unconsciously.
The Cleveland Clinic says that good posture keeps the bones and joints in the correct alignment so muscles are being used properly. It helps decrease wear and tear on joints, decreases the stress on ligaments and prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions. It also prevents muscle fatigue and pain. And, of course, it contributes to an attractive appearance.
According to 100-percent Chiropractic, the long-term deleterious effects of having a poor standing, sitting and/or lying posture are chronic pain, poor digestion, decreased oxygen uptake, increased risk of cardiovascular issues, varicose veins and comprised spinal curvatures.
Can you correct your poor posture? Absolutely! There are three things required to achieve and maintain proper posture. First is flexibility in key muscle groups – especially in the pectoral and shoulder muscles. Second is strength in back and core muscles to maintain proper posture. And finally, an awareness of your posture.
The ACA says that to stand properly, your weight should be primarily on the balls of your feet, your knees should be slightly bent and your feet shoulder-width apart. Let you arms hang naturally to your side, pull your shoulder back, tuck your stomach in and head back in line with your shoulders.
Sitting properly requires your feet to be on the floor, your ankles in front of your knees with a small gap between your knees and the front of your seat and your knees at or below the level of your hips. Your chair should provide good support for your back and your shoulders should be relaxed. Avoid sitting in the same position for long periods of time.
Proper lying position has its foundation in the right mattress. That calls for some shopping. It’s important to sleep with a pillow that provides cervical support. If you’re a side sleeper, put a pillow between your knees and if you sleep on your back, place a pillow under your knees. Avoid sleeping on your stomach.
Want some help? A friend introduced me to a slick little postural device for $79.95 called Upright Go (www.uprightpose.com/). The tiny device is approximately one-inch by two-inches and attaches in the middle of your upper back with hypoallergenic adhesive tape. It is synched with a phone app that tracks your posture. Every time you fall out of good posture, the device gives you a little vibration as a reminder. The phone app provides you with a graph at the end of the day showing your timeline of good and poor posture.
I’m finding it a handy little device to remind me throughout the day to do what my mother admonished me to do decades ago … “Stand up straight!”
Cord Prettyman is a certified Master Personal Trainer and owner of Absolute Workout Fitness and Post-Re-hab Studio in Woodland Park. He can be reached at 687-7437, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org through his website at www.cordprettyman.com.