Poor posture can lead to many health problems including breathing and digestive troubles.
You can look younger with good posture and live longer as it improves the function of vital internal organs. Look thinner instantly by standing up straight and forcing that tummy to tighten up.
Although the technology age is being blamed for all manner of health issues such as eye strain, corporal tunnel syndrome, neck and shoulder aches and sleep disorders, it is not the only reason for our problems with posture.
Are you an avid reader? Do you find yourself hunched over your desk, shoulders rounded forward, back rounded? Ar you stuck behind a desk all day? Do you crunch numbers as an accountant or tax advisor or work in a bank processing loans, for example? Do you sit or stand for long periods of time? All these, in addition to television and the use of computers can play havoc on your health.
Poor posture, especially posture that forces the chin forward or a hunched over position, interferes with the contraction and expansion of the diaphragm. The diaphragm is the main catalyst for the drainage of the lymphatic system. If the diaphragm is contracted the lymph system cannot drain properly and some medical authorities claim that this condition is to blame for many diseases.
The lymph system, as it is more commonly referred to, is part of the immune system. It removes interstitial fluids from tissues and absorbs and moves fatty acids and fats to the circulatory system. The immune response to infection and disease is initiated in the lymph system. It can also be responsible for transporting cancerous cells between various parts of the body when the cells cannot be trapped by the lymph nodes that occur throughout the body.
The heart is attached to the diaphragm so it has to work harder to circulate blood through the body. The digestive system is affected as the contracted diaphragm pulls the stomach upwards, weakening the valve to the stomach and resulting in what is being called acid reflux disease, something unheard of years ago. This may be the cause behind the largest selling over the counter drug being the antacid.
Digestive organs depend on the massage of movement to work properly. As a child, if we became constipated, grandmother would insist we walk, in addition to eating dried fruit or apples. She seemed to understand that walking would help move our bowels and indeed, I still find that long periods of indoor confinement seem to result in more frequent constipation. Something I rarely experience during the warm months of the year. Could this be due to being more active in the warmer months?
In addition to these issues, poor posture can also impede blood flow to the brain resulting in forgetfulness, and poor comprehension especially as people get older and less concerned with, or for other health reasons, less able to use good posture. Poor posture can result in a pot belly as the lower back is arched too far forward. This can also lead to IBS or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. And if that is not enough, sexual dysfunction, urinary tract problems and greater difficulties in pregnancy can also occur.
Exercise may not be enough to correct these conditions however. Correcting your posture and engaging core strengthening exercises such as Yoga may be extremely helpful. You can do much to increase your overall health, and ultimately live longer if you take your posture seriously.
Standing up straight with head up and shoulders back can help you loose that pot belly and look up to 10 pounds thinner, instantly. Don’t believe me? Try it. You do it already anyway. Think about those close observations of yourself in the bathroom mirror when no one is looking. Ah ha! See, I am right. We all do it, so we know it works, but why don’t we do it all day?
It is tiring. As a teacher who is always on the run, I often start out with a conscious effort to stand up straight, as my father would say. Somewhere along the way it gets more and more difficult until I become a hunched over older person by the time I get home. I also spend a lot of time at the computer, writing. In fact, as I type this article I noticed I am suddenly sitting straighter and my back is not aching as it usually does. Hum. Perhaps this really does work.
Doctors and medical people rarely cite poor posture as the cause of illness or discomfort. Why should they. There are pills for that. Expensive pills. But having the correct posture is one of the most overlooked and under rated ways to improve your health and it doesn’t cost a cent.
It isn’t as difficult to get into the good posture habit as you may think, it just requires a desire to do so. If you really want to change your posture over the long term try these three simple exercises and in no time you will get back into the habit.
First, Hold your head up. Imagine that there is a string attached to the back of your head. Bring your chin down into your chest, as if you were trying to create a double chin. This stretches the neck and shoulder muscles. Do this several times a day. Now when sitting, standing or walking, try to look straight ahead with your chin level. Move as if you were balancing a book on your head. As a kid we actually had to practice this with a book for, get this, charm school. Yeah, learned to walk down stairs without looking too. But, it also taught us many of the benefits of good posture. We just forgot over the years.
Next, try to be sure your feet point straight ahead. This will automatically help put your body into correct alignment. If you have foot problems like arches that tend to drop inwards, try lifting the ball of your big toe. Better yet, get fitted for some arch supports from a good source or use orthopedics until you can retrain your step. But you are probably better off not using these foot crutches for the long term.
Finally, the third thing you can do is correct an over arched lower back with a pelvic tilt exercise. Clench or tighten the lower abdominal muscles to force the pubic bone up and the tail bone down. And ladies, avoid those high heeled shoes. They throw your spine out of alignment and lead to even more back and foot problems over the years. I know. As a former ballroom dancer, spending eight hours a day in three inch heels while dancing and performing, I now find that anything over about an inch causes excruciating back pain.
Do these things as often as you can. Put reminders like colored dots in places where you tend to tire and slump. On the steering wheel or computer screen frame. At the sink or on a placemat at the table.
The first few weeks will be the hardest. But a habit can be formed in only 21 days, so if you start today, by Halloween you will be feeling better, looking better, thinking more clearly, and having more fun than you have in a long time.
Life with Barbara