What advice did your mother give you that you listened to and still follow? Or listened to and ignored? A few years ago I read a book containing words of wisdom passed down from mothers to daughters. What the mothers forgot to mention, and which I now think about daily, is my mom’s mantra for me. She began repeating it starting when I was in seventh grade: “Stand up straight.”
Now, many years later, I’m sorry I didn’t pay more attention, for I’m convinced that good posture is essential to healthy aging.
Why worry about posture? From a chiropractic website, “Studies have shown that good posture can help you have more energy, less stress and avoid fatigue. In fact, good posture is essential if you want to stay physically fit.”
Another site says, “…Good posture means your bones are properly aligned and your muscles, joints and ligaments can work as nature intended. It means your vital organs are in the right position and can function at peak efficiency. Good posture helps contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system.” In contrast, poor posture can lead to “fatigue, tight achy muscles in the neck, back, arms and legs, joint stiffness and pain.”
I am becoming a crusader for good posture, starting with my own. I’ve been receiving gentle chiropractic care — called Network Spinal Care — for several months. I can feel my posture improving, though not enough to overcome bad habits of slumping in front of the TV or the computer and bending my neck forward to text. I have a “before” photo that shows the curve of my spine is wrong and my neck is not in line with my shoulders. I’m sticking with the program until I can see an “after” photo that shows my body in alignment. As a new advocate for standing up straight, I’ve also begun making enthusiastic — though unsolicited — presentations to my friends about this treatment.
Good posture is as important to younger generations as it was for my generation. I was only exposed to computers in the workplace some twenty years ago. Imagine kids who sit with their necks craned forward in front of screens starting in preschool. When an anesthesiologist gave me a cortisone shot in my spinal cord at neck level, he said he was now seeing patients as young as twelve, not an age when a body should be needing regular cortisone injections.
But wait. The benefits of good posture get better. Everyone of a certain age has heard the warning: as you age you will become invisible. I believe the better your posture the less likely this will happen, because “..when you are slumped over, or hunched over, not standing straight, you can add years to your appearance.” Good posture gives you confidence, vigor, and a more powerful physical presence. Even if standing up straight doesn’t bring store clerks swarming to assist you, for women, there’s one advantage that beats them all: “Any woman, no matter what her age, can help reduce the sag in her breasts by nearly 50% by simply standing tall.” If this isn’t an incentive I don’t know what is.