Did your mother remind you to sit up straight when you were a teenager? Most of us don’t think much about our posture, but poor posture can lead to a variety of health problems.
- Headaches. Your head weighs about 10 pounds, but every inch you tilt it forward adds10 pounds. If you tilt forward 1 inch, your head weighs 20 pounds. If you tilt forward 2 inches, your head weighs 30 pounds.
- Rotator cuff tears. Rounding your shoulders forward pinches the tendons in your rotator cuff, which can lead to a rotator cuff tear.
- Back pain. Slouching stresses the muscles of your back which can lead to chronic back pain.
- Reduced lung capacity. Poor posture compresses your chest area, which means your diaphragm is not able to fully expand.
- Increased risk of injury during exercise. Neutral spine with the core engaged is the safest position for exercising. It makes sense that working out with forward head, rounded shoulders, poor posture and an inability to fill the lungs completely with air is a recipe for injury.
Good posture requires core strength. Often when you hear the term core strength, you think of abdominals and crunches. But the core includes all the muscles from your shoulder girdle to your pelvic girdle, in other words, the entire trunk area. There are a variety of exercises you can do to improve core strength. These include head retractions, overhead arm raises, bridges, the Yoga tree pose and planks. There are also a variety of stretches that are helpful. These include neck stretches, chest stretches, and hip flexor stretches. For more information on these exercises see “These 12 Exercises Will Help You Reap the Health Benefits of Good Posture” from Healthline.
To improve core strength, it is also helpful to pay attention to your daily activities. Often we use our arms to support ourselves when it would be better to use our core strength instead. If you are unstable because of an illness or an injury, then you may need to use your arms. Otherwise it is better to straighten up your posture and take back your ability to move from your core. Ruth Sova did a series of 30-second videos about situations in which doing things the easy way may cause us to lose function. She entitled the series “Take It Back” and gave permission to share the videos. There are links to the videos in the titles of the six pictures above. The videos show Ruth’s sense of humor and they are delightful.
Don’t forget to also practice good posture when you exercise. See you in the pool!