Your Posture Is Killing You
Jewel demonstrating Tree Pose in our Therapy Pool
As we sit at our desks in front of computer screens more and more, our postures suffer. Our shoulders round and our heads lean forward putting more weight on the neck and collapsing the chest. When our spine misaligns this causes weight to be redistributed throughout the body in way that easily brings pain and discomfort as well as increasing our risk for spinal fractures. There is even a link between poor posture and osteoporosis.
One of the best exercises to develop good posture and spine flexibility is the sun salutation set found in yoga. The forward and back bends standing as well as using the floor help keep the spine supple and improves your overall posture and flexibility.Back bending helps separate and open up the spine columns and relieves the compression. Besides giving you better posture it also improves blood circulation and helps purify the blood by doing so.
Another exercise that can help with posture is found in the Chinese martial art of Tai Chi and is known as the Tai Chi stance, or “Hugging the Tree” stance. Stand upright with your feet shoulder width apart. Bending your knees slightly but not so much that they go over the toes lift strongly from the crown of your head and bring your fingers up so that they are facing each other like you are carrying a ball or hugging a tree. Remember to keep your elbows relaxed and to tuck the tailbone slightly in. By lifting the crown of the head up and keeping the sacrum slightly tucked in your spine is subtly stretched. About.com offers some helpful pictures and step by step instructions.
Some simple exercises you can perform in the pool include back bends and back stretches. Taking your hands on the frame of the pool or a pull up bar, with your feet about shoulder width apart you can lean your head back slightly for a simple back stretch before returning your head in place in line with the rest of your body. To stretch your lower back, a useful trick is “Hanging Like A Monkey”. Grabbing the handlebars of the pool, lift and bring your feet against the wall of the pool. The buoyancy of the water will allow you to perform this stretch relatively easily. Sticking your buttocks outward while holding onto the handlebars will give you a deep lower back stretch.
Standing on one leg in water is much easier than standing on one leg in land. Another stretch that you can perform is a yoga pose called “Tree Pose” in the water. Standing with your buttocks against the wall, bring one foot near your ankle or inner thigh while avoiding placing it at the knee. Standing in this position also helps stretch the lower back and inner thigh muscles.
Strong posture is important for good health. Whether on land or in the water, standing still or moving, there are many great methods available to keep the spine straight, flexible, and strong helping to ensure protection against injury as well as giving you greater confidence and good health.