Wellness Wednesday: How to Have Better Posture

We’ve spent the past 15 months doing a lot of sitting and slumping and vegging, and none of that has done much for our posture. But, we can improve simply by paying a little attention.

Here some advice from my friend Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness, along with the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic. First, a simple exercise to check how you’re sitting.

A three-step posture exercise

Try this, right now, as suggested by the New York Times:

Picture the top of your head. Put your hand there. Lift that point higher.

Lower your hand.Let your shoulders grow lower and wider.

Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Better posture equals better health

Bad posture habits can cause imbalanced body alignment, strain on ligaments and muscles, chronic pain, injuries, impingement, low back pain, neck pain, hip pain, joint stiffness and muscle tightness.

Alynn Kakuk, physical therapist at the Mayo Clinic Healthy Living Program

Better posture also improves the functioning of our inner organs.

Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness

Living in our bodies requires constant learning

Living in our body is not like riding a bike. It is counterintuitive that the thing we should know how to use the best —the vessel we live in — we must continually train.

Good posture involves training your body to stand, walk, sit and lie in positions where the least strain is placed on supporting muscles and ligaments during these activities.

The Cleveland Clinic

Here are some specific suggestions.

Hold phones and tablets at eye level

“Forward head syndrome” is rampant among all ages, thanks to our electronic devices. Llittle kids with iPads are getting the curvature of the upper back that we used to call a dowager’s hump Rather than looking down as you work, read, and play on your hand-held electronic equipment, try to keep your neck elongated. To remember how that feels

Get up and move once an hour

Standing up and focusing on good posture for a few minutes can relieve muscle strain and improve breathing and circulation, which also helps improve attention and engagement.

Deborah J. Rhodes, M.D.,physician and cancer researcher at Mayo Clinic

Boy, is to easy to fixate on what we’re doing. My Apple Watch reminds me to breathe once an hour. I often ignore it, missing a simple opportunity to take a 60-second break from whatever I’m doing. A ten-minute brisk walk around the block is even better, and our rescue Lab Kumba agrees.

Strengthen the standing muscles

We tend to underuse our upper back muscles, leaving them unable to help us stand up straight, while our chests tighten. Lower in the torso, our core muscles — our abdominals, pelvic floor, and the muscle running up our spine — are essential to good posture.

Kegel exercises became part of my daily routine at the end of 2019, when I learned how to strengthen my pelvic floor muscle in order to rid myself of the vestiges of incontinence, the result of catheterization during my three-month hospitalization. Yeah, recovery is complex and sometimes not too pretty. I do them four times a day. Every day. Check out the Easy Kegel app.

Check your posture with Marlo

Marlo Scott, First Class Fitness and Wellness, demonstrates how to have better posture