Health & Wellness

Never Back Down: Your Spine Needs You In Good Standing

BY: Judith Rasband • Nov 03, 2019

“Help!” the letter demanded.  “My son looks like he’s dying or if he isn’t should be…  Head down, shoulders slumped, chest sunken, stomach hanging out, and he won’t listen when I tell him to stand straight!”

Not exactly the image of a healthy, vibrant and alive individual, I must agree.  And today’s advice to “let it all hang out” certainly does not apply to one’s posture.

My dad was forever telling me to stand up straight, too.  He would place his knee between my shoulder blades and pull back on my shoulders.  I probably thought he was a nag and I don’t think I ever said, “Thanks.”

You see I was 5 foot 8 in the seventh grade and like so many girls, I somehow thought that if I slumped, nobody would notice my height.  I soon learned that rounded shoulders never fooled anybody and I was creating more problems that I was solving.

My clothes didn’t fit, the bustline so anticipated by a seventh grader sagged out of sight.  I looked tired, and what’s more, I felt tired.  I’m now grateful for the advice of a concerned parent to “stand up straight.”

Poor posture is mainly a matter of “stooping to bad habits” and can be developed at any age, so it’s a matter of concern not just for teens.  Fatigue, weak muscles, extra weight, ill-fitting shoes, a lumpy mattress, or poorly designed chairs and sofas can all contribute to poor posture.

In children, muscle growth may be out f balance with bone growth and can lead to an overly erect upper back or a swayed lower back.  Exercises prescribed by your doctor can stretch the muscles and correct the problem.

Teens can get into the habit of carrying their books on one hip or resting their weight on the same leg and thereby throw their posture askew.

If a side-to-side curvature of the spine seems to be present, seek the advice of your doctor.  Scoliosis is a disease which affects thousands of youngsters, generally during the teen years, and early detection can halt its progress in time to enable correction of the condition.

Adults can introduce a title into their carriage if they continually carry a child on one hip.  And rounded shoulders and back can result after years of bending over a desk.

Even poor eyesight can create that “hand-dog” look as the head is thrust forward in an attempt to see more clearly.  And poor self-esteem, at any age, may cause shoulders to slump.  So take heed of these warning signals.

When your posture is in “good standing,”  it contributes to a good physical and mental health.  It can increase physical comfort and improve circulation.  It can improve muscular balance and therefore coordination.

Good posture can reduce fatigue, tension, aches and pains in muscles and joints, which are sure to develop and even worsen in later years if poor posture is continued.

Correct posture can cause you to appear slimmer and in better proportion.  As a teacher, I never cease to be delighted at the number of fitting problems in clothing that can be eliminated or at least improved if you simply “stand up straight.”

And let’s face it, the way you stand and walk is body language at its most obvious.  Overly-erect posture can communicate an air of arrogance, while slumped posture tends to say, “I’m unhealthy, I feel unattractive, unimportant, uninteresting, or I’m uninterested in life.”

But when you “walk tall,” you’re making a non-verbal statement of self-confidence and self-acceptance.  You’ve taken a positive “stand” in the world.

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