Zionsville — I remember when I first saw my wife. She was sitting on the floor of the university gymnasium, surrounded by 43 other students, but she stood out for sure. Not only because she was lovely, I didn’t notice that until I investigated further, but she was sitting bolt upright, with amazing posture. Everyone else was doing what you are supposed to do when sitting on a hardwood floor…slouching forward, or leaning back on their hands to succumb to a more comfortable position. How she was sitting just looked correct.
It would be nice to live life with your shoulders back and not need to think or do anything about them, but correct posture is not automatic — it is developed and maintained. As long as you live on this earth we must accept two truths. First, gravity is present, constant, and only has one job: to throw everything towards the ground at 9.8 meters/second. Every time you intend to move or get out of a laying down position, you will be required accommodate this force.
The second is that life happens in front of you, and as a result, at the end of the day you will be forced out of position. Think about it: the things that require the best of you all day long…your children, your food, your computer, your steering wheel, your smart phone, this paper-everything is drawing you forward, rounding out your chest and shoulders, and creating stress on your neck and back. It is getting even worse since texting has become a primary form of communication, and those little devices, with their tiny screens and keys require the worst posture possible to operate. Seriously, look around at the terrible body position of the youth. Where is a nun when you need them?
Throughout your day and your life, as your body tires your posture changes and heads toward the ground.
But you have two weapons to combat this!
Have you changed how you are sitting yet? That’s right, the first part to any change is awareness. With regular attention you will get acclimated to holding yourself correctly and it will even begin to feel awkward to stand any different. But, you may need a little more than just awareness to create this habit.
If you are struggling to stay upright, beef up your strength! Your muscles and bones are the resources you have to combat the evil force of gravity, and if they are strong and enduring you can maintain an upright, healthy position. Start by strengthening the muscles between your shoulder blades with the following series of movements.
Stand in front of a mirror so you can see how you look the first time you do this.
1) Bring your arms out horizontally, and bend the elbows so you fingers are pointing up.
2) Gently lift your chin and look at the ceiling.
3) Pull your elbows back and firmly squeeze your shoulder blades together for 5 seconds.
4) Turn you palms to the ceiling and begin slowly lowering your hands/arms out and all the way down to your sides, while slowly bringing your chin back down to neutral.
5) You should be in a great position for posture.
6) Repeat one more time.
Use this exercise to draw your shoulders back any time you have been sitting for a long time or feel achy or tight in your neck, shoulders, or low back.
Gravity is a constant and your life happens in front of you, so care for your body position so you can be upright and healthy as long as possible.
Mark Moreland is the owner of Body Outfitters Personal Training Studio in Zionsville and has 13 years of experience as a personal trainer. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.