I hope you had a great Easter weekend like I did, and you’re up and ready to face a new week with renewed confidence and strength.
What are some of the telltale signs of confidence in our lives? A light in the eyes? Firmness in the voice? A bright facial expression?
I believe there’s one sign that we subconsciously recognize before any other, and that’s our posture. When you see a person walking with their head up, their back and neck straight, and their shoulders back, it communicates strength, openness and confidence.
Livestrong.com notes: “Open posture portrays friendliness and positivity. In an open position, your feet are spread wide and the palms of your hands are facing outward. The University of Northern Iowa College of Business Administration notes that people with open postures are perceived as being more persuasive than those with other postures.” An axiom among sales people is that, even when you don’t feel confident, if your non-verbal cues — like posture and smiling — indicate confidence, it can influence the outcome of the meeting as much or more than your words.
So, on this week’s “Move Right Monday,” I want to look at the importance of good posture.
Take A Stand For Good Posture!
You may have seen images like this before:
While it is humorous on first glance, it suggests a disturbing truth: our modern, sedentary, desk-based lifestyle has had a serious negative impact on our posture, and by extension, on all of our health.
Your head weighs approximately nine to twelve pounds. Next time you go bowling, try holding a bowling ball straight up over your head for two or three minutes. You may feel a little fatigue after that time, but you can do it. Then, hold the ball out at a 45-degree angle above and in front of you. It won’t take long at all before your arm gets tired. When your posture is aligned properly, gravity is your friend. When your body is out of alignment, gravity starts to work against you.
Spending our days hunched over a desk (or over a smartphone) puts significant pressure on the joints of your spine, from your lower back all the way up to the atlas, where your neck and skull meet. Just consider a few of the health problems I see in my patients that can be directly tied to poor posture:
- Shoulder, neck, and back pain
- Degenerative disc disease
- Depression, increased stress and diminished levels of energy
- Tension headaches
- Restricted breathing
- Cardiovascular problems
- Digestive issues such as constipation, acid reflux and hernias
Notice how many of them would normally seem unrelated to spinal health — and this is just the beginning! The nerve endings that proceed out between the discs of your spine control all of the muscles, organs, and systems of your body. That’s why spinal health is such a passion of mine (and why chiropractors are much more than just “bone crackers”). As your spinal discs receive unbalanced pressure, they put unbalanced pressure on the nerves that control your whole body.
What Can We Do About This?
The purpose of “Move Right Monday” has always been to promote flexibility and mobility, but what most people don’t understand is that, as your strengthen and limber up your muscles in the right ways, you straighten and strengthen your posture. I would strongly encourage you to go back and watch the four videos we posted (here, here, here, and here) with simple exercises you can do at your desk, in the kitchen, in your bedroom, or wherever you are during your day. We’ll have more of these videos in the coming months. Soon, we’ll have a whole catalog of simple moves you can choose from to improve your posture, flexibility, and overall health.
If you really want to see maximum improvement quickly, I encourage you to set a timer and stop and do five minutes of these exercises every hour through your day. You’re going to start to feel great quickly.
In the meantime, here are a couple of other things you can incorporate into your daily routine:
Stand as much as you can. If you can do your job standing – as opposed to sitting – do it! Standing desks area real blessing of modern engineering, if you can get one. You don’t necessarily have to stand up all day, but the more you can be on your feet, the better for your neck and back. If you have to sit at a desk, try to stand up and move around at least twice every hour for a few minutes. Walk to the water cooler, the restroom, or just outside to grab a moment of fresh air.
Walk more. Dr. Joseph Mercola has this great advice about walking, “Wear a fitness tracker, and set a goal of walking 7,000 to 10,000 steps each day, which is more than five miles. While you could probably walk this distance all at once, it’s best to spread it out evenly throughout the day, as much as your schedule will allow. I tend to walk 12,000-16,000 steps a day and concentrate most of that during my solar noon walk on the beach. Get in the habit of using the stairs and parking farther away from entrances.”
Hold your smartphone a little higher. Remember the example of holding up a bowling ball, and rest your 12-pound skull on top of your spine, instead of hanging off the front of it. You’ll experience less neck fatigue, fewer headaches, and less pressure on your whole nervous system.
Go back and watch the exercise videos. Start doing these simple movements today and watch your whole posture improve over time. Keep your eye on this “Move Right Monday” segment for more videos in the months to come.
If this article was helpful to you, or if you know someone who spends just a little too much time hunched over their cellphone, I encourage you to share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Google Plus. And be sure to follow us in one of those three locations, if you aren’t already. We cover a wide range of topics to help you “Move Right, Eat Right, Think Right, and Live Right,” and you never know who will benefit from the things we share here.
We’ll see you on “Wellness Wednesday!”
P.S. If you live in the Southwest Florida area, my team and I invite you to our next Fundamental Food event, this Thursday, April 9th, at our office in Naples. We go deep on some important food issues, and we have a great time. Bring a dish to share. Make plans to be a part of it – and please RSVP.
“At the end of your feelings is NOTHING; at the end of your principles is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas