Habit #9: Correct Posture

hunchback-of-notre-dame-DVDcoverBack about the time CDs were just staring to replace vinyl albums, I was on vacation with my first wife, her best friend Lori, and Lori’s husband Larry. Larry was a long-distance runner, lifted weights, taught martial arts and was once profiled in a local magazine in an article titled “Best Bodies in the Bay”. He was the one they picked in the male, 20-29 category.

We were in a seaside town strolling by various shops – the girls were in front of us, Larry just in front of me. Larry didn’t just enter a room – he glided in like a sleek, massive jet rolling out of the hanger. As we passed our reflected images on the adjacent smoke-tinted shop window, I watched each of our images mirror us as we passed. Vanity has always been a weak point (I’m proud, but not proud of that fact, if that even makes sense), so, of course I looked at my own reflection after watching Larry’s pass by in the mirror.

Big mistake.

Somehow I had mysteriously transformed into some hideous cross between a unibrow, knuckle-dragging Neanderthal and a ridiculously twisted Elephant Man. Ok, it wasn’t that bad, but after seeing Larry’s reflection a split second before mine, well, it wasn’t pretty.

It wasn’t that I had a terrible body, but the way I carried the one I had: slump shouldered, crane-necked and shuffle-stepped. Was I just some defeated creature looking for a place to lay down and die? At 21?

Flash forward to the present day. I teach a couple of Pilates classes each week, strength train to balance all the functionally opposing muscles and hold my head high whenever it’s not on a pillow. When I compare pictures from 20 years ago to recent ones, besides the fact that I have more muscle, less hair, more wrinkles and less fat (a pretty even trade off down the line, don’t you think?), the big difference in appearance is that I always looked tired. In recent pictures I usually look crisp and energetic. And I never have back or neck problems – a very common trait among my peers. Training is a big reason. Posture is the other.

So how do you quickly and easily correct your posture?

Here’s a great visualization I learned in a local yoga class: Imagine you have three strings attached to your body; one each to your shoulders and the third to your crown. Each is being pulled in its respective direction (left, right and upward.) This opens you up and stands you tall, rather than forcing a pinched, rigid unnatural stance and carriage. It feels good too.

The other instruction I give my Pilates students to correct the ever popular one-side hip-lean is, when standing, to always feel your weight evenly distributed between:

1. Each foot (lateral)
2. The balls and the heels (forward/back)

It’s also good to engage the core, which you can do by gently contracting the low abs and slightly drawing the navel toward your spine (not vacuuming the entire abdominal wall like the desperate pot-bellied middle aged dreamer as the hot bikini-wearing nymph floats by on the beach.)

If all this seem like just too much to bother with, start with the “three strings” and see how much difference it makes in how your back feels (you can do this sitting as well as standing.)

You may just like the way it looks too.


Learn more about how to get and stay in great shape? Contact Dan at Tri Valley Trainer

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