It’s the position you are in reading this, or the position you are in driving your car, watching a game, googling and even sleeping. Your shoulders are rounded in, your head is forward, your spine is curved and your rib cage is collapsed. We spend so much time slumped, that sitting up straight feels awkward or actually hurts. As we slump, some muscles get long and weak; others get short and tight. These muscle imbalances will pull on our bones causing them to possibly shift which in turn causes strain to all of our connective tissue. Next, the range of motion in our joints becomes limited and in some cases, nerves become impinged.
Gravity is going to get us enough as we age without us rushing the process slumping over all of our electronic devices. Here are some ways you can avoid the slump:
Awareness – being aware of your posture is the first step to correcting it.
Jenga – just like the block stacking game, you must stack yourself so you don’t topple over which means, chin parallel to the ground, jaw loose, ears over shoulders, shoulder girdle (shoulders and shoulder blades) down and back, rib cage pulled into the spine. If sitting, knees should be at a 90-degree angle with feet flat on the floor or a stool. If standing, pelvis should be in neutral and knees soft.
Strengthen – your upper back muscles and core
Stretch – your chest and front of the shoulders
Balance – challenge yourself to stand on one leg so your body remembers how to work together. Progress to moving the other limbs while standing on one leg and playing around with closing the eyes, although be sure to do this close to a wall so you don’t fall down.
PLAY – give each joint in your body the chance to move through it’s fullest range of motion so it doesn’t get stuck in one position over time. We tend to force our bodies to do things and if it can’t we stop doing them. Change your mindset to allow the body to move gently and fully in ways you might see a toddler dancing, moving and laughing in their back yard.
Smile – when you smile, you are opening your heart and mind and your body will follow.
Erica K. Perkins, Associate Director