December 2018: Three Proactive Moves to Fix Your Posture as You Age

 December 2018

Three Proactive Moves to Fix Your Posture as You Age

dec.jpeg

Think of an aging person and picture his or her posture. What comes to mind? Does it include slumping, a forward head, or stooped shoulders?

Aging brings with it physical changes. Bone density drops, muscle strength declines and yes, posture will change. However, there are proactive measures your loved one can take to ensure that postural changes are halted or even reversed.  

1. Wear comfortable shoes and stretch your calves 

Modern footwear is, unfortunately, awful for our feet. This is especially true of workplace footwear, which is often narrow and has some sort of lift in the heels. Yes men, that one-inch heel at the back of your shoes, while not as high as the heels many women wear, is still placing your feet in a bad anatomical position and placing stress on your calves.  

Our feet are not meant to be jammed into shoes and years of adhering to workplace guidelines have likely caused plenty of stress on your lower legs. However, relief is within reach! First, opt for more comfortable footwear, preferably shoes that have a wide enough space for your forefoot and toes. Try to walk around barefoot (so long as this does not cause pain) as often as you can. Second, perform a standing calf stretch. Roll up a towel near a wall or chair you can hold onto for balance. Place the forefoot of the leg you want to stretch on top of the towel. Step forward with the opposite foot and bend the knee of the leg you are stretching slightly forward. You should feel a stretch in the calf of the leg you are stretching. Hold this stretch for 30 seconds and then perform the stretch on the other leg. Repeat this three times. 

2. Sit down properly  

Sitting down is so simple we don’t really think about how we sit until weakness makes it a struggle to sit down and stand up. Sitting down is a matter of using the right muscles, specifically hinging our hips properly, which ensures that we use the glute muscles on our backside to perform the hard work of lowering ourselves down.  

To make sure you are hinging your hips properly, consciously practice sitting down by starting the movement by pushing your hips back first as if you were using your butt to close a door. Hold your arms straight out in front of you for balance if necessary. Once your hips are hinged properly allow momentum to carry you down to your seat. Make sure when you get into the seated position you sit balanced evenly left and right and that you avoid slouching. If you tend to lean one way or the other, especially on a couch or in an easy chair, you should consciously focus on making sure you are not leaning to one side or the other but balanced evenly.

3. Tuck your neck back  

Forward head position has become an epidemic as a result of our constant use of computers, smartphones, and even from reading books. You can tell if you have a forward head position if, from a side view, your ears line up forward of your shoulders. Luckily, forward head position can be fixed with a move that can be practiced anywhere.  

The move is simple: tuck your chin down toward your chest and push your head back. Hold this position for three seconds. This will lengthen your neck and you should feel a tension in the muscles just below the base of your skull in the back of your neck. Practice this move regularly: in line at the market, at home while sitting on the couch, or when you’re in front of the computer. The practice will strengthen the posterior neck muscles and help you hold your head in a more erect, and correct, position.

December's blog written by guest author, Adam Wheeler, Certified Personal Trainer.