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Good Posture Affects How You Feel and Age

Good posture is a really good indicator of how you will age -  especially if you will be able to be independent as you get older - according to a Japanese study published in the Journals of Gerontology. Researchers found that of the 800 subjects studied who were at least 65 years old, those whose spines were the most hunched forward with over three times more likely to need assistance. Dr. Daniel Knapp, a chiropractor who has been practicing for twenty years says, “Bad posture can lead to painful joints and arthritis and internal problems.” 

When we compensate for an injury, engage in repetitive movements that create chronic stress, or maintain poor movement habits, we are generally not aware that we are hurting ourselves. Knapp says, “We will give in to our muscle weakness because we feel comfortable, so we may shift the body into a position that is not good for it — and the body learns to accept it as normal.”

Good Posture Awareness

So what is good posture? Military stance is what often springs to mind: legs locked, shoulders thrust way back, stomach sucked in, and chest pushed out. But this is not the ideal posture, you should never be rigid. We should have the ability to move effortlessly in any direction without hesitation or preparation.

Becoming aware of which areas of the body are being held with tension or in unnatural positions is the first step, as then you can start to improve the body’s function. Particularly with seniors, many have a hunched posture from a rolled back pelvis, tight hip joints, and a forward head. Muscles can become tight from being either too strong or too weak, but the tight muscle will weaken its opposite muscle.

How to Improve Your Posture

Knapp recommends two simple exercises to improve basic posture. Rolling your shoulders backwards and forwards can be done anywhere, anytime. “Wall slides” require you to stand with your back against a wall and your feet stepped out about twelve inches. Slide your arms past the line of the shoulder about six inches while keeping the shoulder blades connected to the wall. After holding that position for three to five breaths, slide the arms above the shoulder line about six inches and hold it. Repeat ten times.

Ultimately, good posture starts with paying attention. How do you hold your body in space? Be mindful and connected to the senstations in your body. And, of course, make sure you are not holding your breath. 

Consult your primary care physician with any questions you may have, or before starting a new exercise program.


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