Posture Power

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

When I was kid, 8, 9, maybe 10 years of age or so, my brother who is several years older than me, would poke me in the back or the side and say “Stand up straight!” – Man, did I hate that! In response I would shriek something along the lines of “Leave me alone!” As much as I hated to admit it then, I did slouch and slump quite a bit. I was shy and awkward and that just felt a bit safer to me than sticking my chest out and strutting about.

I bring this up because while I have been thinking about posture for this blog post, it hit home this morning during my first workout with my personal trainer, Paula. (Woohoo!!! She ROCKS! and I get to say I have a “personal trainer”. Mind you this is not part of my usual vocabulary. Sweet!) As she was guiding me into one of the many exercises we did today she said “Now bring yourself into proud posture and then bring your arms back”…etc. Proud posture. Nothing earth shattering here but it just brought to mind the sense of well-being, confidence and groundedness that open, upright posture exemplifies.

In my daily massage work I see the effects of poor posture. Forward head positioning, tight pectoral, scalene and sternocleidomastoid muscles. Strained posterior neck and shoulder muscles, tightness in the ribcage and diaphragm, and low energy. While one session of massage does not “fix” these issues, it can remind my clients how good it feels to lift their chins, open their chests and breath deeply and with ease.

Our posture says quite a bit about how we are feeling on the inside. But our posture also has the ability to work from the inside out. Try this: if you are sitting at your computer or on your smart phone reading this, take a moment and observe your posture. I mean really observe and take note. Are you slumped over your keyboard with your head forward? Are you looking down with your head flexed forward and your shoulders in your ears as you are walking down the street? Are you slouching in your chair with all of the above head/shoulder postures? Not trying to invoke your Mom or Grandma here (or my brother!) but straighten up!

Now take a deep breath…bring your head back so it floats above your shoulders. Let your shoulders fall away from your ears. Take another deep belly breath. Nice and slow. Roll your shoulders up and back and few times. Open your mouth and stretch your jaw. Tuck your tailbone and feel yourself straighten up. Remember that string that lifts you from the top of your head? (or how about Leather Tuscadero with the phone book balancing on her head? Gotta love Happy Days! Now the Fonz had POSTURE!)

Do you feel a difference? Practice for the next few days. Every 1/2 hour or so (or some other time frame that is realistic for you) during the work day check in with your posture and your breathing. Do you need to adjust? Do you notice a change in your energy or your mood when you open and shift your posture? Are you noticing a bit less tension in your neck and shoulders?

We may not be able to change what we have to do for many hours each day but we can change HOW we do it. My brother wasn’t just teasing me for the fun of it! (well… maybe a little) Our posture affects both physical and emotional well being. Gently reminding ourselves to lift our heads, open our chests and take a deep breath can change the way we see the moment, the day, the world.

After my workout and my massage (self care!!!!!!!) today I’ve been strutting around with “proud posture” like crazy – and it feels GREAT!

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