Correcting Bad Posture?
I'm only 30 years old and have terrible posture. I didn't realize it until someone pointed it out. My shoulders are rounded and the curves at my neck and lower back are accentuated. How can I straighten my back?
You're wise to correct your posture now that you're aware you aren't standing properly. Poor posture can lead to all kinds of health problems, including impaired breathing, musculoskeletal pain, and fatigue. It can cause wear and tear on the joints -- and that increases the risk of osteoarthritis. It can also interfere with sleep and digestion, and saps your energy.
You can practice proper posture by standing in front of a full-length mirror and following these directions:
Hold your head up straight with your chin in.
Keep your shoulder blades pulled back.
Keep your knees straight.
Tuck in your stomach.
In time, you may be able to correct your posture on your own, but I recommend that you try one of two alternatives: the Alexander Technique or yoga.
The Alexander Technique focuses on posture problems, helps you unlearn bad habits, and replaces them with proper patterns of movement so that you stop slumping. The technique was devised more than 100 years ago by F. Matthias Alexander, an Australian actor who lost his voice and set out to cure himself when doctors couldn't help him. By studying his movements in a three-way mirror while reciting Shakespeare, he discovered that his voice loss was related to certain head and neck gestures. Alexander then retrained his muscles, worked out a new way of breathing and speaking, and as a result, regained control of his voice. You can get a list of Certified Alexander Teachers through the American Center for the Alexander Techniques, Inc. at 39 W. 14th St., Room 507, New York, NY 10011. Or call (212) 633-2229.
Yoga can also help improve your posture by increasing your flexibility, toning your muscles, and releasing tension that may contribute to your posture problems -- it's a good exercise option for everyone, regardless of age. There is a saying that "good breathing means good posture" and yoga can teach you breath work that will enable you to regulate many body processes in addition to correcting your posture.