Sunday, November 15, 2009

Getting straightened out

I went over to my parents' house the other day. My dad answered the door. It was the first time that I noticed I'm taller than him. He's got multiple myloma, a cancer that eats away at his bones from the inside out, and right now it's feasting on his spine. As a result, his once 6'4" frame is curled over to achieve a height of 5'9". He reminded me of my grandmother, his mom, who in her youth was a solid 5'8", but by the time she reached her 70s, had a pronounced dowager hump...and that caused me some alarm. Because I favor my dad and grandmother, and I'm starting to curl over at my shoulders. It's just starting to be a little bit of an effort to stand up straight to my full 5'11". And I like being tall!

It's time to do something about this, but I'm not sure what, exactly. As I consider my postural dilemma, I understand how sitting at a computer for hours isn't helping me at all. I have an ergonomic chair, but it just doesn't fit at my bedside table where I'm working right now. I need to rethink my workspace.

I see how the weight I carry in front (the belly) pulls my whole posture forward and down. That's where the effort to stand straight goes. That's an issue with my core, and despite how much I loathe core exercises, I need to get over myself on that as well. I think I need to find some good back workouts to strengthen the muscles that pull me up as well.

I tried finding some advice on this online, but as usual, tons of site and books that talk about the problem and not many that actually show you what to do. I went to one of my sources for info, and a fellow fat-burner gave me some tips on what to do.

"Training your core and upper body will help your posture tremendously.

For the core I recommend plank variations of all kinds and make sure you include side planks for the obliques.

For the upper body, there are so many variations, but I think push ups and pull ups and chin ups are great. For the upper back area decline push ups with your toes on a bench are incredible for posture support. If you can't do them with toes on a bench, lay across the bench at thigh or knee level and then work your way down to the toes.

I highly recommend body weight exercises done in plank positions for over all posture.

Also, make sure that your glute, hams and quads and hip flexors are conditioned and gently stretched...especially the hip flexors. When you sit alot they get shortened and pull your upper body down and forward. Doing a lunge stretch for the hip flexors every day will go a long way."

I just sent an email to the senior executive physiologist at Vermont's Green Mountain Spa, LynnAnn Covell, about this. As soon as she writes back I'll share what I've learned. In the meantime, I'm seeing some planks in my immediate future!

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