Sign up for Meridian’s Free Newsletter, please CLICK HERE
My mother’s osteoporosis was a big deal for the last half of her long life. She was nearly 95 when she passed away and her advanced osteoporosis in her spine left her without the back strength to support her body, or even to hold her head up properly. In the end she was bed-ridden, though thankfully still mobile enough to take care of her personal needs. When she did get out of bed it was heartbreaking to see her bent at the waist, with her head practically facing her feet.
She passed it along to me and I was also diagnosed in my late 40’s. After watching Mom, I’m doing my best to address it every day. NEWS FLASH: Our doctors will want to treat osteoporosis as a disease, comparing our aging bones to young women in their late twenties for standardized testing. In reality, it’s a condition (like wrinkles) that won’t go away, but can be very positively addressed in many ways besides the pharmaceutical drugs that have a hidden dark side that everyone should know more about.
www.SaveOurBones.com is an in-depth online resource for understanding and addressing osteoporosis in a drug-free, scientific way that emphasizes diet, supplements and exercise. So far so good for me! I’m 65 with no breaks and NO DRUGS. Watching my mom all those years has given me an inside track of what may well come, especially if I don’t do all within my power. (I’ve included the link at the bottom of this article again that you may want to bookmark and study if you are dealing with osteoporosis.)
Mom would talk
about when her posture started to decline.
She had a deal with one of my sisters, asking her to remind her when she
saw that she was not standing up straight.
While I thought I was doing OK posture-wise, some recent photos reveal
in living color that as short as I am (I’m not even quite 5 feet tall) in some
of these photos I’m even shorter because I’m leaning forward at the
waist! YIKES! Is this how it started for
Those photos tell me that whether it’s osteoporosis-related or not, it’s high-time to take my posture seriously. I, like many, spend a lot of time sitting at a computer and working with a smart phone for all kinds of things that make up daily life. FACT: Sitting at a desk and texting take a toll on our posture! But they don’t have to! I’ve done some research and below is a summary of ten great tips that are really well worth our time to implement – whether or not osteoporosis is a part of your life.
(Many thanks to Lauren Sanderson at www.ActiveBeat.com for these great tips!)
When we spend our days sitting in front of computer screens, driving, or looking down at paperwork, slouching becomes a habit. Our shoulders hunch and our backs curl unconsciously, and it’s hard to get back to proper posture. Not only does a slopping posture put stress on muscles—it can also have a negative effect in terms of how you are perceived.
Here are ten tips to get you standing up straight and taking up space…
1. Stretch your Chest
Your tight chest muscles are pulling your shoulders inward. The curve in your spine follows, and next thing you know you’re practically in a ball. As stated by Paul Ingraham, former massage therapist and editor of Science-Based Medicine, the pectoral major is a very large and strong muscle. If you keep them tight, they will overpower the antagonist back muscles, which are responsible for pulling them back in place, and cause a hunching posture.
Although not many people think to stretch out their chest, it’s easy! Find a door way, stand in the middle and put both arms on the frame at a 90-degree angle. Step gradually forward through the door way until you feel the stretch. Hold for 1-minute. You’ll feel your chest open up almost immediately.
2. Strengthen Your
There are countless stabilizer muscles in your core that are meant to keep you in an upright position. But if you never use them, they’ll weaken and forget to do their job. A couple of crunches at the gym won’t do the trick. Yoga expert and founder, Julie Gudmestad, from the Portland, Oregon-based Gudmestad Yoga says “I could relate dozens of cases with people whose sometimes chronic, severe back pain was greatly improved or even eliminated by strengthening the support system of the core”.
Weak muscles in this area are directly linked to back pain. Dr. Martin, an instructor of orthopedic surgery at Dartmouth Medical School, notes that people with back pain spend an average of 3,000-dollars more on health care than those without. This is not taking into account costs of missed work days or diminished productivity, not to mention the mental and physical toll that comes with living with chronic pain. Spend some time on your core to avoid all of this.
3. Do Yoga
A big part of correcting your posture is becoming aware of it. If you think about your posture enough, it will just become second hand nature to stand properly. Yoga is a practice that draws a lot of attention to proper posture. Reminding yourself through the day is hard, but your yoga instructor will definitely bring your attention back to your posture.
Yoga instructors call to attention small details of postures that help us correct. Often there are wall mirrors that can let us see what an upright position should look like. It is common to be encouraged to stay in a posture and breathe, and this promotes the habit of staying open and straight. More importantly, yoga teaches us to be in tune with what our body is telling us. If we become good at listening to our bodies, we will be able to tell when we’re slipping and slouching.
4. Use a Posture Strap
Despite the best of intentions, it’s almost impossible to keep reminding yourself about your posture throughout a busy day. We can’t rely on our minds to think about something that’s supposed to be second nature. Luckily, we don’t have to. Get started with a posture strap, and turn good posture into a habit.
Kathryn Budig, a yoga teacher and a writer for the Yoga Journal, speaks about the anti-slouch yoga strap trick. It involves using a cloth yoga band to create a sling for your shoulders, coaxing them into proper position. Place the cloth at the base of your shoulder blades, create an X on your back and let the straps come around the front like overalls.
5. Let Go of Stress
When we feel the effects of poor posture, such as a strained back or a kinked neck, we often think it happened incidentally. It was something we lifted out of the car, or at the gym. The truth is, the injuries are often born from the stress of everyday lives.
Sadie Nardini, the renowned yoga “rock star”, empowerment speaker, and Healthy Hedonism lifestyle leader has been a yoga and anatomy expert for over 20 years. Nardini says the best way to cope with physical misalignment in your posture is to focus on emotional alignment in your life. For example, if you feel anxious around your boss, that anxiety can cause tension in your shoulders, “Which then start radiating because they are connected to your back-body line, and cause a tight neck, tight low back, tight hamstrings,” she says.
6. Change Your Texting Habits
Many of us are examples of the inevitable smartphone slump. When we look down at our phones, we shrug our shoulders upwards and curve our back into a hunching position. Experts at Surgical Technology International say that texting can add up to 50-pounds on your spine. That’s a heavy load to carry around when we use our smartphones constantly.
It’s unrealistic to try to abandon technology to give our spines a break. But we can change our texting posture. Holding the phone up towards your face with a neutral spine will take away the stress of the hunch back posture. According to Surgical Technology International, every 15-degree raise of the phone alleviates a considerable number of pounds of stress off the spine.
7. Arrange Your Work
Most of us spend a large majority of our day at work. Set yourself up for posture success while you’re there. It’s much more tempting to slouch while you’re sitting down. National Institutes of Health research indicates that we sit for an average of 7.7-hours of our day! If at all possible, ditch the chair for a while. Stand as you work, or make a point to take a lap around the office every hour, to avoid the seated slouch.
When you are sitting, arrange the space around you to promote good posture. The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) makes suggestions as to how to go about this. First, choose a chair that can be adjusted for height and tilt the lower back support to match your natural spinal curve. The work surface should be about 1- or 2-inches above your thighs. The keyboard should rest in-between your body, and the computer screen should be far enough from your face that you can keep a level gaze, but not too far that you’re leaning into it.
8. Sit Properly Behind the
A national in-car study conducted by Arbitron revealed the average American spends more than 15-hours a week in the car. If you spend those 15-hours slouching, your body will be screaming at you down the road.
Chris Adams, a human factors engineer, industrial designer, and ergonomics expert, offers some tips for proper behind the wheel posture. Make sure your legs are not scrunched up and you can reach the pedals with your thigh relaxed. The steering wheel should be set so that it rotates naturally with the up and down movements of your arms, and doesn’t require chest muscles to move. Line up your mirrors so that you can see without straining. Using your rear-view mirror as a reference—if you’ve slouched lower you’ll notice you can’t see through it anymore!
9. Avoid Sleep Slouching
Even with a proper work environment and a perfectly adjusted driving posture, sleeping in a poor posture can destroy all your progress. After all, we spend a huge amount of time sleeping! Sleeping postures are very challenging to change—we all have a favorite, and when we crawl into bed we just want to be comfortable. But try to be aware of what shape you take before you fall asleep.
Doctors at Physio Works recommend sleeping in a posture that maintains the natural curve in your lower spine. The best posture for this is lying on your back with a pillow under your knees. If this is uncomfortable, lying on a side with knees slightly bent works also. Be conscious of how your head hits the pillow before you fall asleep. Your neck shouldn’t be too tucked or craned upwards.
10. Check In:|
“Ear’s over shoulders … shoulders back … navel in … stand up tall!
If you can remember, try to do a mental posture check when you can. Dr. Kenneth K. Hansraj, a spinal and orthopedic surgeon, gives us some things to focus on. He says, “Your spine is at its happiest when your ears fall on the same plane as your shoulders, and your shoulder blades are retracted.” Think to yourself—ears over shoulders…shoulders back…naval in…stand up tall.
At first when you’re trying to kick the slouching habit, leave yourself notes on the mirror or by the fridge to remind you to think tall. Have a friend work on this with you and ask them to tap you on the back when they notice you slipping. Use visual references if you’re sitting down-some mark on the wall that you should see straight ahead if you’re sitting up properly. After a while you won’t have to think about it so much.
(Again, thanks to Lauren Sanderson at www.ActiveBeat.com)
So what do you think? None of these things are difficult, it just needs to be a priority!
Remembering who we are, as children of a Heavenly Father who loves us, can be another awesome reason to stand tall and proud for every aspect of health and wellness!
IMPORTANT LINK FOR OSTEOPOROSIS www.saveourbones.com
Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups.
She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents to a growing number of darling grandchildren. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox, much loved by many Meridian readers:
CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE