Posture: The One Word that Can Change Your Behavior Instantly
You just sat up, didn’t you?
The word, itself, reminds people of the importance of good posture.
We all know that good posture is important. But why?
Do you know that your posture can literally determine your mental health? Your emotional health?
How successful you can expect to become?
Here’s one thing I notice about living in Amsterdam, home of some of the tallest people in the world: A good majority of them stoop over.
They do the same thing that New Yorkers do, regarding cell phones (known here as “mo-bile” phones). They walk down the street, bent over the tiny screens, typing as they walk…walking into traffic, bikes, me*…
[pullquote align=”normal”]*…by the way, that makes me crazy. I wish these people would just pull over to the side of a building and do their business. Why do these people walk down the street like a zombie, colliding with everything like its nothing?* [/pullquote]
…but I digress…
However, many Amsterdammers tend to slump over without the phones.
They slump over while talking to friends, while eating at a restaurant, sitting at their desks, when speaking in front of a room full of people…its as if they have an imaginary ceiling over their heads, and they have to perpetually duck as to not hit it!
Then I watch the older Amsterdammers, those in their 50s, and 60s, let alone their 70s and 80s, trying to walk down the streets.
Many of them shuffle, their upper backs now deformed after years of stooping, and the gravitational weight of their forward head carriage has worn down their low backs’ ability to stabilize the rest of their body, so their legs are weak from nerve system interference.
Many of them have walkers, or are even in wheel chairs.
Goodness knows about their ability to go to the bathroom, have sex, or even climb the stairs, let alone their ability to enjoy the sailboats in the canals or the beautiful parks on bicycles.
It’s really sad to see, because the Dutch are a very proud people. One can see, as they make their way slowly down the street shuffle by shuffle, that their lack of independence at a relatively young age is extremely humiliating to them.
It’s so unfortunate, because it is so easy to fix.
One simply needs to adjust their spines and change their posture. And keep doing it.
Americans are not immune. We slump. A lot.
It affects everything we do.
It even affects our hormones. Forward head carriage and slumped shoulders are primal stances of fear and depression.
When we slump forward and rest our weight on our rib cage, we are telling our bodies that we are in danger and that we are helpless.
In contrast, sitting and standing straight, head held high, shoulders open, chest open and available, tells our bodies that we are not only all right, but that we are strong, happy, and victorious.
Amy Cuddy, researcher at Harvard University, and her team, tested this theory out in a series of famous studies; the results of which she presented in a famous TED talk in 2012.
She and her team found that testosterone and cortisol levels improved dramatically after just TWO MINUTES of what they called, “high-power positions,” vs. “low-power” positions.
When we carry ourselves straight and tall, strong in our core, our brain and spinal cord are able to function with less interference and are able to clear waste products from our cerebral spinal fluid into our lymph nodes. This is crucial for brain and body health.
The following quote is attributed to The American Journal of Pain Management. I can’t confirm right now it that is true; if it is, it was written in or before 1991. However, the quote is said very concisely:
[pullquote align=”normal”]“Posture affects and moderates every physiological function, from breathing to nervous system function, and despite the considerable evidence that posture affects physiology and function, the significant influence of posture on health is not addressed by most physicians.” [/pullquote]
Can you imagine if it is true? That we’ve know this for at least 30 years?
You know that there is a lot of worry about the increasing incidences of Alzheimer’s disease these days. Did you know that recent research suggests that brisk, purposeful walking 30 minutes a day can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by 60%?
There’s not a drug out there that can come close to matching that.
How much more effective do you think these results would be if we employed open, strong, proper posture to our walking?
No shortage of help
There is no shortage of postural and fitness professionals who teach the importance core strength and postural alignment. Yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, all the martial arts, therapeutic exercise, strength training, Rolfers, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais Technique…of course, the list goes on.
When we have been stuck in a rut of poor posture, chiropractic care is crucial to the success of any program of postural success.
How Chiropractic Helps Posture
When we hold our bodies in any position for a long period of time, the body creates fibrous connective tissue to hold us in that position because it thinks we want to stay in that position.
Even the bones will grow extra bone to try to stabilize the body in a position in which we repeatedly place ourselves. That’s called osteoarthritis.
If the spine starts to do that, the extra bone can grow into the spinal canal and the foramen where nerves pass. That’s when we can get severe nerve interference.
If you find it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve healthy posture, it is critical that you get chiropractic care.
Chiropractic care breaks up the adhesions in the spine and joints of the body. It allows free movement of the vertebrae, and thus minimizes interference to the nervous system at the junction of the brain/spinal cord and the peripheral nerves of the body.
It allows the success of using every other technique.
But you can start today. Right now.
Get up against a wall, feet shoulder-width apart. Touch the back of your head and your rear end to the wall. Roll your shoulders back until your shoulder blades are flat against the wall. Drop your shoulders.
That weird feeling you’re feeling is proper posture.
At your desk
The top of your monitor should be level with your eyes. Your legs, arms and hands should all be at a 90-degree angle with the rest of your body. Your keyboard should be close. Make your spine straight by lifting yourself up from your pelvis and tummy. Breathe into your tummy, not your shoulders.
And get up and shake it out every 15 minutes.
Walking down the street
Put the phone away, or use headphones to talk, straighten up and walk forward.
Using your phone
Bring the phone to eye level – not your head to phone level. Yes, it’s uncomfortable. So what? Are you afraid of a little upper body strength
When talking with short people (like me)
Stand tall, look down at me with your eyeballs. As long as your manner is jolly and not snobby, I won’t take offence. Make me straighten up to talk to you. It’s good for me, too.
It will make us both jolly. Literally, it will make us happier, healthier people.
For Two Minutes
If you can do any of the above and hold if for just TWO MINUTES, you can improve your health by a magnitude!
Imagine if you hold it for longer? Hours? Days? Months? Years?
How happy and healthy can you make yourself if you do just this? Absolutely free?
C’mon. Straighten up. It’s worth it.