Blog#72: Strong Posture Can Improve Your Life
Strong posture involves standing, sitting and doing other activities with as much stability, comfort, symmetry, and vitality as possible for each individual. Every one who can stand up is balanced; otherwise they would fall down. But they might not be balanced in a strong, stable way. According to Dr. Steven Weiniger, founder of the Strong Posture program, “strong posture” requires three elements: optimal balance, alignment, and movement, (BAM).
In today’s world, fewer and fewer people have optimal posture. People bend over, texting on smart phones, sit at desks working on computers, and slouch while standing in lines for the bus the bank, appointments, and more. Increasing numbers of people have forward head posture, which is just what it sounds like. When the head is forward, the body is not well aligned. As a result, the center of gravity is compromised and balance is not as stable as it could be.
Also, in today’s stressed, rushed world, less and less people breathe abdominally. Instead, they engage in more shallow chest breathing. When core muscles are engaged in deep abdominal breathing, the body is more balanced and stable than it would be with chest breathing. Motion is also important, since this is how bones are strengthened and muscles are toned, blood and lymph are circulated, the nervous system is best balanced and utilized, and internal organs are efficiently massaged, detoxified and replenished.
Increasingly, it is being said that sitting is the new smoking. There is a significant amount of truth to this. If the body is folded for many hours each day, the fold becomes increasingly indelible. The heart is not exercised as much as it needs to be. The intestines and other internal organs are not massaged as often as they need to be to stay healthy. The spine is impacted due to lack of blood circulation and insufficient muscle tone and stability. Vertebrae become inflamed, less dense, and more poorly aligned.
With toned muscles, optimal alignment and good balance, the elderly are less likely to suffer spinal compression fractures or falls. They are also less likely to loose inches in height. As a result, they will tend to enjoy longer and better quality lives than those who do not have good balance, alignment and motion.
Strong posture training involves daily exercises lasting about 20 minutes total. Over time, these exercises will help improve the body’s stability and also improve resilience and coordination in those who choose to engage in other types of more challenging exercise, such as playing in sports or daily yoga practice. The “strong posture” program also involves taking photos every month or several months against a grid. This will track changes in posture as a person becomes stronger, more stable, and more aligned.
One rather simple exercise that I can share in this blog is the stork: the person stands on one leg with the other leg flexed at both hip and knee. The thigh of the raised leg is parallel with the floor. If the person needs to wave their arms or leans from side to side to keep from falling, then a “peel-back” is taught first. The stork is done three times a day, for an equal amount of time on each leg, and for increasingly long time intervals. As the person becomes more proficient, many variations are introduced to keep the exercise challenging. It is important that posture should be good when doing any of these exercises. The head should not be held forward, the shoulders should be level, and so on.
This blog’s offer: contact me with any questions about this exercise or about the Strong Posture program. I teach the series of exercises and also use a grid to help measure and evaluate progress.