Stand up! straighten up! Stop slouching! We've all heard this at one time or another, most likely first from Mom. And she was right, it's important! We basically spend a significant portion of our lives bent over and folded in half - seated and immobile, muscles tightening, joints settling into a compensatory semi-permanent shape that will eventually lead to pain and disfunction.
We wonder why we hurt, why it takes half the morning to loosen up enough to get on with our day. Well, when you freeze your body into this doubled over shell every day for years, it will protest. When you take your head - which weighs approximately 15 pounds in the average person - and lean forward an inch or two, you put a very large pull on the muscles that run up either side of your spine (your "erector muscles"). They become responsible for keeping your head from dragging you forward right down to the floor! So take those hyperactive, cramped muscles that are overworked throughout all your waking hours and try using them to stay upright and you can perhaps see where there might be a problem.
Another problem - along with the forward head comes rounded shoulders. When your shoulders round forward, your chest collapses. Also, when your chest collapses your shoulders round forward. Can't have one without the other. Try breathing fully with a collapsed chest. Try throwing a ball with the shoulders so far forward you can't get the pre-stretch needed to get the arm moving.
And don't forget the abdominal muscles! Sagging, weak abs allow the pelvis to tilt forward, putting pressure on the low back. Much better to pull in those muscles and use them like a belt that applies pressure to your mid-section - like your hand squeezes a balloon, causing the balloon to lengthen and grow longer and taller - so your spine extends and reaches for the sky because the abdominal muscles act to support your core and decompress your vertebra.
What is the answer? You need a fitness professional to assess the various posture malfunctions presented by your own personal structure and biomechanics. Then you need an exercise plan that addresses those weak and tight muscles. At Walking Tall Fitness that means Pilates, weight training, movement re-education, bodywork (MAT and FST). Programs and exercise selection will vary with each individual, intensity and volume of effort will match the client’s growing level of fitness and experience. And all exercises and movement skills will include postural practice and proper form development.
So - there’s no reason to give up and collapse into your body. No need to spend your senior years in pain brought on by constant pressure and overwork in the muscles and joints of the spine. Instead, you can find and reinforce the strength, the flexibility, the structure and function of ease in your movement. You can rediscover the energy inherent in proper posture. You can move and work, play, sleep, live fully, if you’ll only stand tall!