I recently came across the old Steve Martin SNL sketch where he is making a Christmas wish for everyone. He experiences quite a bit of confusion as he is trying to determine his priorities for his Christmas wish. He starts with the wish that all the children of the world would join hands and sing in a spirit of harmony and peace. It then goes quickly downhill from there. It is pretty funny. My struggle was similar, yet quite different when determining what I wanted to focus on for this short article.
What would be my priority when guiding my clients on the best path forward in their health for 2022? Managing stress? So very important but oh so hard to achieve. Exercise? Again, so important but so many people get started and fizzle out within a few weeks or months. This led me to think about why big plans for exercise fizzle. Well, there are many reasons, but one is injury.
People get injured when starting new exercise plans for a variety of reasons. They often start too vigorously and set their sights too high rather than easing into a plan. But even when many start easy they still get injured. Why? Posture. Posture. Posture.
So, there it is. My wish for everyone for 2022 is that all the children (and adults) of the world would join hands and practice better posture.
Improving your posture results in a cascade of health benefits. And, as a bonus, you look better too!
Benefits of better posture:
- Less pain in our backs, necks and joints. Stacking up the way we are designed means less tension in the tissues and less pressure on our other body systems.
- More energy. When our body is stacked up they way it was designed, we use physics to balance our bones allowing our muscles to be more relaxed.
- Improved breathing. Less slouching allows more space for the lungs to fill.
- Improved digestion. Slouching compresses the space available for the digestive organs.
- Improved circulation. Tight tissues place pressure on the circulatory structures. Have cold hands or feet? Check your posture.
- More confidence. Take a peek at Amy Cuddy’s research.
- Less prone to injury. Joints and muscles in proper alignment perform better during movement.
Posture is a choice. All you must do to improve your posture is pay attention. Most of us choose our postures unconsciously and aren’t even aware how poor our posture has become. Our brain has adapted and made poor posture feel normal.
Almost every client I see has something about their posture that could be improved. Greater than 90% have multiple opportunities to improve. When I look at a client’s posture, I use 25 different landmarks to determine posture and body alignment. It is not just standing up straight. These points are based on the work of Katy Bowman, biomechanist and author. If posture has been poor for an extended period, it pulls the body out of alignment. Alignment is much harder to change. But you can change your posture today. Now. Immediately.
Jumping into an exercise program without working on your posture first is like taking your car on a cross country trip when it is out of alignment. You’re asking for trouble.
Take a look at your favorite athletes. Choose one that has been around awhile. Try to find some pictures online when they are and are not playing their sport. Bet you’ll see great posture. People who practice good posture all the time, perform better and longer.
What can you do?
Myofascial work can improve your alignment, help good posture feel normal and get you on your way to the benefits of great posture. Taking a class that improves posture such as yoga or natural movement is a way to further boost your postural muscles and skills.
My posture is awesome. My goal for myself is to keep my posture great and keep building a resilient body as I move through my middle years. Join me!
It’s your move!