Stand Taller With Good Posture & Exercise

Proper body alignment can have quite an impact on how you look and feel. It's often the culprit behind a variety of ailments, from headaches and shoulder tension to back pain.

Poor posture may also be robbing you of your due height. According to Arthur White, M.D., founder of the San Francisco Spine Institute in Daly City, Calif. "A strong back will allow you to stand as much as two inches taller."

Slouching, overtraining the muscles on the front of your body, and undertraining your back muscles can all steal away inches. In addition, health conditions like osteoporosis can take inches off your height.

Rounded shoulders are usually the result of slouching for extended periods of time, which can damage muscles, tendons and ligaments -- even disks and bones. For tasks that require a forward lean, such as working over a desk, try bending from the hip rather than rolling your shoulders forward.

The problems triggered by rounded shoulders are often exacerbated by our tendency to exercise the muscles along the front of our bodies -- our pectorals, abdominals, hip flexors and quadriceps -- more than the muscles of our upper and lower back. This is a double whammy for your posture, as the stronger muscles along your front actually pull your body forward and your spine further out of its natural, healthy line.

Good posture is achieved when your ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle are in a straight line as you stand. Your back should maintain the natural "S" curve of the spine, with a slight anterior curve at the low back and neck, and a slight posterior curve at the middle back. Too much or too little curvature in the lower back can place undue stress on the disks and vertebrae, setting the stage for muscle strains and disk injuries. You can continue to stand tall with these posture tips: Evaluate your posture throughout the day as you perform a variety of tasks, from working at your computer to driving your car to carrying bags of groceries into the house. Check the alignment of your ears, shoulders and hips. Remind yourself to sit or stand tall, and to bend from the hips whenever you lean forward. Stretch the muscles along the front of your body. The more flexible they are, the better your chances are of keeping your shoulders back and your torso lifted tall. Battle osteoporosis and potential vertebra fractures along your neck and upper back by getting plenty of calcium. Ask your doctor if a supplement is appropriate for you. Exercise your back muscles. By strengthening key muscles and connective tissue along your upper and lower back, you can visibly improve your posture. 2001, Jazzercise Inc, Los Angeles Times Syndicate - - - - -Eliminate back pain with a holistic approach.
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