Day 29 - Dr. Mark's Secret Move to Improve Your Posture
I don’t know when I started caving into myself. Probably about the time I grew both tall and boobs at the same time. Standing straight seemed dangerous, so I inwardly rotated my shoulders and hunched forward. If I could have put my upper body in a Tupperware container and carried it in my pocket, I would have been more comfortable, but, as you know, the spine bone is connected to the hip bone, so I was one long skeleton trying to walk around the world and protect her heart at the same time.
It’s hard to look proud when you are slumped forward. Proud people stand tall, right? If you see two people standing next to each other and one is slumped forward and the other stands straight, don’t you just assume the latter one has better self-esteem? Granted, things like scoliosis and other physical maladies come into play, but I am just talking basics here—that if you can, standing up straight is a better choice than not standing up straight. But why? Why, for most of my adult life, people have been telling me to stand up straight. Why do they care?
Is it all cosmetic? Do they want me to be a proud Barbie?
I know when I was a kid and my parents and teachers would tell me to stand up straight it was like being told to stop eating candy. What? Why? And, no.
I want to stand up straight now because I get it. It's not to make other people feel better about me: it's so I can feel better not just about myself, but about the world.
I just don’t know how. I’ve done yoga for almost 20 years, but, funny enough, it just exasperated my internally rotated shoulders because I didn’t have great form on some of the poses such as chaturangas, or push-ups, and I used my pecs to support me more than my back muscles. My work as a massage therapist also adds to my internally rotated shoulders (this means that my shoulders roll in towards my heart) because I am frequently in that position when I work.
I have amazing news for you.
The other day I said to Dr. Mark Lucas, my chiropractor, How am I ever going to get decent posture? I brought my shoulders up, back, and down and tightened my rhomboids and prayed I looked better.
He gave me a funny look and pointed at the spot where my ribs meet, down by the xiphoid process, that little bit of you located the bottom of the sternum. “This is an imaginary bucket handle,” he said, touching the center of his ribs, motioning upwards as if he were trying to move the whole ribcage up into his throat. “You pull that up, you don’t have to worry about your shoulders or your head. Everything will fall into alignment.”
I mentally pulled up on the handle. To do this I had to lift up on my abdomen and I felt my spine lengthen and my whole self settle into the home of alignment. I felt my ribs open, my shoulders and head go back. I felt strong. I felt happier.
“This is so awesome,” I said.
“You’re a cheap date,” he told me, or at least I think he said this. I may be making it up, but it’s funnier than saying he just shrugged and walked away. (See photos below.)
I keep forgetting to pull up on the handle, but I also keep remembering. I like how my diaphragm feels more open and how I can take deeper breaths when my handle is pulled. I like how my stomach feels flatter and my neck feels less cramped.
I found an article about a study showing how better posture improves mood, memory, and overall performance. Go ahead and make your mama happy: read it. https://biofeedbackhealth.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/0-article-biof-45-02-36-41.pdf
See you tomorrow.
Weiner dog painting by Jonny Parker (http://www.jonathanparker.com/background/).
Dr. Mark Lucas is at http://www.proactivehealthcare.net/index.html.