My great-nephew, Drew, is one of the most important people in my life. We bonded almost from the time of his birth, five short years ago. We love spending time together playing ball, racing toy cars, reading, whatever he wants to do. I try to be a good steward of that time by teaching him something of value, although I did make the mistake of calling him a nincompoop one day and he picked right up on the word, using it at every opportunity. I had to explain myself out of that one by telling him that he must not call anyone that, that it was just a word between him and Aunt Pam to tease each other!
We had been outside playing at his great-grandparent’s house, one Sunday afternoon. We went inside the house for a drink of water. While there, Drew decided he wanted to eat a piece of birthday cake. He climbed into the chair at the kitchen table. I sliced him a piece of cake and reached for the drawer to get him a fork. “I don’t need a fork.” He said. He picked up the cake with his hands, and just as he aimed for his mouth, it fell out of his hands and onto the floor, icing side down. “That’s why you need a fork!” I explained. “Now, sit up there, because I’m going to teach you to act like somebody!” He thought that was hilarious.
For the next few minutes, I taught him about table manners. I reasoned why he should sit up nice and tall, with one hand in his lap. He soaked up the information like the little sponge that he is.
Later that afternoon, his daddy came to pick him up. He told his dad that “Aunt Pam taught me how to act like SOMEBODY!”
This reminded me of something my mother taught me. “Sit up straight!” She would say. “If you slump like that, your back will form that way.” Her instructions were reinforced by my schoolteachers. I recall my high school typing teacher telling the class that we would lose two inches off our waists if we would be aware of our posture.
Parents and teachers, we should be emphasizing this with our children. We need to be posture aware, too. With sitting at computers all day, like many of us do, we can find ourselves in a real slump.
Practicing good posture is an essential element of our health. You see, when we let our spine sag, we can develop a postural deviation known as kyphosis, or hunchback. Structural kyphosis is caused by osteoporosis, (the loss of bone mass), or can be an abnormality of the spine. What I’m speaking of is postural kyphosis, which can be caused by poor posture, and weak abs.
Kyphosis creates an outward curvature of the spine, and a forward curve of the neck. This creates a strain on supporting ligaments, which results in a sagging rib cage. When the rib cage sags, it narrows the abdominal space. When the abdominal space is decreased, the organs, such as the intestines, have nowhere to go except to protrude. Respiratory function and heart action are restricted, and ailments like acid reflux can develop.
When we slump, our chest muscles become tight and the muscles in our back are overstretched. Sitting at the computer isn’t the only cause of this. Runners and cyclists can develop kyphosis if they don’t spend some time stretching the muscles of the chest and strengthening the muscles of the upper back.
Sitting for long periods of time causes tight hip flexor and hamstring muscles. This creates a pull on the pelvis, resulting in the collapsed rib cage. Stretching these muscles regularly will help to avoid this.
The best way to correct posture is to practice good posture. When standing the crown of the head should be the tallest part. At least one of your chins should be pulled in and your ears should align with your shoulders. Chest lifted high, and shoulders pulled back and down, while holding in the abdominal muscles, result in a naturally aligned spine.
In a seated position, you should sit tall. The knees should be slightly higher than the hips.
When walking, keep the head tall, and avoid a forward head.
By regularly performing exercises to stretch muscles that are tight, and strengthening those that are weak, will improve your posture. Take time every hour to open up the chest with a nice stretch. Take breaks often. Get up and walk to improve your circulation.
With just a little effort, you can be like Drew. You can improve your posture and learn to act like somebody, too!
Check out Straighten Up America , and see what you can do to improve your health in just three minutes per day.