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Ester Marsh: Good posture is important

By Ester Marsh

For the Salisbury post

Do you have proper posture?

I am so glad my mom was adamant about proper posture when I was growing up. It drove me nuts when, once again, she poked her finger between my shoulder blades to get me to stand up straight.

But now I am so happy she did. When you look around, you see improper posture in any age group, and with the computer age, it has gotten worse. Sitting in front of a screen for many hours and not paying attention to your posture, you eventually turn into a “turtle” — shoulders drawn up, back slouched and neck reaching out long.

Sound familiar? How about the neck tension after you have been sitting behind a computer or driving for a long time?

So what causes bad posture?

Genetics can play a big role when the spine has a curvature such as scoliosis (the spine curves out of alignment sideways) or Kyphosis curvature of the thoracic (rib-cage area) makes the spine curve outward. And then there are the sway back (lordosis) and flat back, all genetic misalignments of the spine that will affect your posture.

An accident can have an effect on posture. Being overweight and having weak muscles are other big reasons for bad posture.

So why is proper posture so important?

Your muscles can function properly when your joints and bones are in correct alignment. It helps prevent abnormal wear and tear of cartilage in the joints. There is less stress on the ligaments holding your joints and spine with proper posture.

Proper posture prevents the spine from becoming fixed in abnormal positions. Your muscles are being used efficiently and will feel less fatigue.

Proper posture also means less backache and muscular aches. And face it, someone who stands up tall or sits tall appears to be more confident.

You can check if your posture is good by putting your back against the wall with your heels about 6 inches from the wall. Your buttocks and shoulder blades will touch the wall. There should be less than 2 inches between your neck and the wall and your lower back and the wall. If it’s more, you know you need to work on your posture.

A strong core and upper back muscles can benefit good posture.

I know some of you feel it’s too late to correct bad posture, but it’s never too late! You can always improve your posture no matter what age you are. Yes, there can be challenges when there are spinal problems or injuries, but I have seen so many people improve tremendously by working on their posture.

Getting stronger in the core (abs, lower back and sides) and upper back and opening up the chest will help you stand straighter, walk taller and feel so much better.

If you need any help, come see me at the J.F. Hurley Family YMCA. And any certified personal trainer can help you reach your goal.

 

Ester H. Marsh is health and fitness director at J.F. Hurley Family YMCA.

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