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Style Magazine

Straight Talk

Aug 24, 2009 07:25AM ● By Wendy Sipple

All of our lives we are warned to “sit up straight,” yet many of us ignore these warnings about proper posture. It is critical that we maintain good posture to help prevent injury and muscular imbalance.

The ability to assume and maintain good posture is an important neuromuscular skill that comes with repeated practice. Most acute and chronic injuries are caused by a person’s inability to maintain good posture or alignment during daily activities.

Building the strength, endurance and flexibility necessary to attain and hold neutral alignment in all activities is the cornerstone to an effective exercise program. Muscular imbalances manifest themselves in a person’s posture and are influenced by the way we work, stand and sit. Most of the day we spend sitting, hunched over, stretching the shoulder blades in a forward position, with pressure on the lower back. Good alignment of the body in the sitting position can reduce or prevent the pain associated with posture problems.

One way to develop good posture is to perform exercises such as push-ups, crunches, squats, and by adding weight training to your exercise program, taking caution to make sure you use correct form. Weight training has grown in leaps due to its many varying benefits. “Lifting weights has always been popular for sports performance and body sculpting,” according to Paul Cacolice, a certified athletic trainer. “But recently, women have begun weight training as a way to manage stress, correct posture and offset osteoporosis. Older adults are understanding the importance of weight training to improve balance, reduce frailty and prevent falls.”

Eight out of 10 Americans will have to deal with back problems during their lifetime, and most of these issues are caused by sedentary lifestyles. So next time you’re just sitting around, stand up...straight, that is! Your back will thank you for it.

8 Tips to Practice

Proper Posture On Your Feet
(Consult with your physician before performing.)

  • Head should be suspended with ears in line with shoulders over hips, hips over back of knees, and knees over ankles.
  • Arms should be relaxed and hang facing the sides. Shoulder blades should be neutral, slightly retracted.
  • Maintain the four natural curves of the spine. A decrease or increase in the lower back changes the amount of compression forces on the spine.
  • Lightly compress the abdominal muscles to help support the spinal column.
  • Pelvis should be in neutral position, neither tilted front, nor back.
  • Knees should be unlocked. Hyper-extended knees shift the pelvis forward causing back strain.
  • Feet should be shoulder-width apart with the weight evenly distributed. Concentrate on keeping weight over the entire bottom surface of each foot.
  • To help you stand in proper posture, imagine a line dropped from the head, passing through the middle of the neck, through the center of your body, down the back of the knees, and through the ankles.