Maintain Good Posture - Avoid the Bend in the Road
I am a part of the new majority in society, never seen before. I am at the front end of the "baby boomer" generation, born after World War II and for the first time in human history, there are more of "us" than "them". On average, we will live longer, have more disposable income and retire earlier. How glorious is that? We get to throw our weight around!
Unfortunately we also accrue interest on our life style up until this point. Depending on our investment into our physical and mental health, all the dreams and aspirations of this wonderful retirement life can be paralyzed by pain and dysfunction. Life never has been fair for everyone. Good people who live well and careful, get sick and disabled and even die. People who are careless and excessive sometimes seem to get away with it and live beyond expectations and surprise us. The longer they live the less they seem to get away with. Some things are out of our control. Let us pay attention to simple things we can control and change.
I have learned that one of the sleeping giants to wellness is our posture. Going to any place where seniors congregate will reveal varying degrees of hunching of the back and altered center of gravity. These people used to be a lot taller, walked straighter and had more mobility. We assume that getting bent over is just a natural aging process and there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to deal with the fact that our back will get weaker and we will eventually need a cane and then a walker and then....wheelchair and then.....
Folks it doesn't have to be that way. This direction has a lot to do with life style, work style and habits over a lifetime. Consider the old adage "what you don't use, you lose." This seems to apply to all parts of our being; spirit, soul and body. Our physical being is the easiest to demonstrate. If we have been "couch potatoes" who have deprived our bodies of the opportunity to activate, your body does not readily respond to the demand that you go out and jog. Depending on your state, collapse may be immediate or imminent. However if you push to a "reasonable limit" and then try again the next day, your range may extend. You can astonish yourself by seeing how rapidly you can measure your progress - and how much better you feel. The stories of recovery are amazing. Cardiac patients can rehab and run in marathons!
The same is true for our posture. As we age we sag. That happens because certain unused muscle groups turn into "couch potatoes" . They need awakening and activation. Other muscles have become tight and rigid. They can stretch again. Joints that have operated in limited range of motion can mover further. Just don't expect an instant reversal to a long trend. Using the same principale as recovering activity levels, one can gradually recover range of motion and stand straight again. But why should I bother?
The benefits of straightening up are huge and make a difference to how well and how long you live and the level of pain that you suffer with. Consider the following realities. Doing a search through the web will verify all of these facts.
- The center of gravity for your body determines how it carries its weight. The most efficient way is a vertical alignment that lines up the centers of your ear, shoulder, hip and just in front of the ankle. That way gravity flows through you and there is the least load requirement on your muscles and bones.
- Every inch your head is forward from that line represents an extra 10-15 pounds of load on your shoulders and back. Try holding a 10 pin bowling ball in that position for any length of time and you get a feeling for the work required.
- Your spine has a natural curve that acts to absorb shock from sudden impact by curving a little bit more. This protects inner organs if you suddenly miss a step or have a sudden jar. Too little curvature would cause injury. Too much curvature would result in more compression than the back structures can withstand without injury.
- Holding the body in an unhealthy position for a long time causes the muscles to lock into an unhealthy state. Some muscles tighten and loose their ability to stretch. They get stronger over a shorter range. Other muscles stretch and get very inactive and weaken. With spinal curvature, the muscles inside the curve are tight, the ones outside the curve are stretched.
- Holding joints in unhealthy positions causes them to wear poorly and damage. Discomfort, then pain, then disability grows in the neck, shoulders, lower back and hips Nerves running between and around the joints are damaged. Chiropractors, physical therapists, orthopaedic surgeons and others all make their living off these kinds of injuries.
- As we gain weight in all the wrong places (belly, buttocks) it stresses the spine and it bends even more.
- Loss of height means everything in the trunk gets shorter and more compressed. Lung space is more compressed. Breathing and air exchange is less efficient. It is difficult to use the diaphragm for breathing. Less air exchange means the carbon dioxide level rises in the blood. That changes blood chemistry and affects calcium leaching from your bones. This also puts pressure on the abdomen and food doesn't move as efficiently through the digestive system.
- This is a progressive problem that will continue until total disability unless it is reversed.
Loss of posture sure means a lot more than sore shoulders, and damaged appearance. It affects a large range of body functions but in a subtle way that it is often difficult to trace the problem back to its roots.
The answer lies in returning toward the alignment that you had when you were a young child. This can be done by stretching what's tight, strengthening what's weak, and mobilizing what's stiff. You could be straightened out by being placed in a cast and left there until your body straightened out. The problem is that the muscles that were meant to hold you there, shriveled up and wouldn't support the change. It's worse than when you started.
What does work is a a system that makes the changes and gets the body educated and strong so it feels normal and anything less is unacceptable.
There is a device called the PostureJac that does that. Using the Spinal Corkscrew Principal, developed by Dr. Howard Makofsky, Professor of Physical Therapy, it teaches the body the proper mechanism to restore and maintain alignment. This is an active process. There are lots of brace-like devices that pull the shoulders back and restrict mobilization like a cast. They replace normal muscle function and so they weaken. It is an active support device that stabilizes the spine and activates the muscles so that they strengthen. There are a whole series of exercises provided and demonstrated on the website that are designed to restore and strengthen muscle groups from the top of the spine right down to your core. They will be your support group to keep you tall and strong. Use it or lose it.
This has proven to be a valuable device to support, activate, train, and protect people. I would invite you to the website to learn about the unique design that is being used by people of all ages to fortify, correct, restore and improve their condition. Click on here for a journey to a different kind of solution. Our goal is to make you independent, free of the need to wear this thing for the rest of your life. I don't wear mine as frequently anymore, but I sit straighter, stand taller, and do the actions it taught me all day long. At the ripe old age of 58, I am as tall as I have ever been, if not taller. That's not the way things usually work. The same could be true for you.
Click here to visit http://www.posturejac.com Be sure to check out the information and our cool flash videos on the video site and the exercises page. Explore the How It Works page to see an explanation of the Spinal Corkscrew Principal. If you are the information type, check out Dr. Makofsky's lecture on posture. By all means, if you want to buy a PostureJac, you can do that here too.
Alan Hayhoe is President of SomatoCentric Systems Inc. He has a BSc. in Biomedical Sciences, BEd., and MEd. and experience in teaching and counseling. SomatoCentric Systems Inc. was formed in 2006 to bring unique products to the market that improve the strength and stability of central body structures. The PostureJac, currently under patent application, is the first product. SomatoCentric Systems has the exclusive rights to manufacture and distribute the PostureJac under license agreement with Dr. Howard Makofsky. Information is available at http://www.posturejac.com
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