How tall are you? You know the answer. You were measured at the doctor’s office or maybe against the kitchen doorway by your Mom. But how was your height recorded? Standing against the wall, you moved your head backward until your head hit a solid surface, you raised up as tall as you could and then someone applied the measuring stick, recording your height. And now almost all of us are at least two inches shorter.
You know where I’m going here. In poor posture, our spines are out of alignment. The spine is naturally curved, but over time–thanks to gravity and modern life–most of us have changed its basic shape, taking away some inches in the process. We’re victims of poor posture. Do you recognize yourself in any of these 5 types?
Tilted Pelvis Problem – Your pelvis is the lever that adjusts your spine. Sometimes because of the enlarged stomachs of overweight people, this causes a pulling forward of the spine, developing into a tilted pelvis, also called Sway Back, or Lordosis. The weakened stomach muscles give way to the stomach fat weight, pulling the pelvis backward, swaying the lower spine and shortening its height.
Rounded Shoulders – This very common condition, Kyphosis, curves the upper spine pushing the shoulders forward, usually tilting the head forward and down. This bend is good for a negative two inches at least.
Locked Knees – Look above at the “Navel Attack.” Locking the knees backwards causes the body to realign for balance by swaying the back, sticking out the belly, rounding the shoulders and jutting out the head. This is so prevalent in my family, unfortunately.
Knock-Knees and Bow-Legs – Two common conditions, although opposite of each other, they apply the same negative effect on posture and height. Sufferers generally walk with the majority of their weight either on the instep or the out-step, which can induce a poor posture and again steals inches their height.
The Combo Package – A lot of us have varying degrees of all three of the versions above, exaggerating the spinal curve, compressing the discs and shortening ourselves in the process.
As we grow older, we lose height naturally due to gravity compressing our spinal discs, and of course, I’m not talking about serious spinal conditions, such as scoliosis. But what about our full height potential? Correct posture will not only add inches to your height, but will actually make you look thinner as well. The trick is getting the spine back to its original shape, which as we know, involves strengthening the core, stretching the muscles and adding consciousness about your posture and height.
I’ve added exercises in the exercises & resources section, but first, I’d like to talk about your vision of yourself. Change in altitude only comes with a change in attitude. Once you start the mental process of true commitment to improving your posture, you will succeed, because there is no turning back, you’ve set a process in motion. Once you feel the change in your body, you will feel a change in your mind.
Conversing with an old friend, he excoriated me about this blog. “I got everybody bugging me and now, you! You sound like some born-again zealot trying to convert everybody!” Overreacting? Oh, a tad. So I thought it might be a good idea to go over again the reason why I’m doing this.
First off, I’m not the nun with the knuckle-cracking ruler…
…Hey, who put that there?! Anyhoo, as I said before, I’m afflicted with bad posture and wanted to change. By reading a lot about posture, fitness, exercise and health, I am slowly undoing a lifetime of bad habits and I feel it, both physically and mentally. If I visualize my spine in correct alignment, it can slowly straighten itself out by “feel”, My shoulders drop, my spine lengthens, my head is repositioned over my shoulders, my chest opens and I breathe easier. I’m at the point where if I am not standing or sitting straight, I can feel the dis-ease in my body. Once I straighten up, the stress leaves.
Remember, it took a lifetime to get out of whack, it takes time, exercise and mindfulness to get it back on track. Good posture is not a destination, it’s a journey. And totally worth it.