I’ ve been called by several of my clients a ‘posture policeman’. When I observe a client, posture gives me a host of information, which is why one of the first things I look at with a new client (as well as current clients) is posture. Posture, gait, and, walking, often spell out the various muscles that either need strengthening or stretching, and also offer a clue into how much a person sits. I’ve always thought postural habits have a big influence on health. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal (6/24/14) may bear me out. The article, “Slouch at Your Own Peril” highlights some of the dangers associated with ‘slouching’, or poor posture. When I tell clients to stand up straight, most will arch their lower back to achieve it.  Good posture is more than that. It means standing with your head over your shoulders and, with hands at the side, middle fingers pointed down the side of your thighs. Palms should be facing your body. From the front view, if you took a straight line down from the shoulder joints, the shoulders, and hips should be in a straight line, as well as the inside of the ankles. Do a body check in the mirror. If you are aware of poor postural habits now, you and only you can change them. One of the biggest challenges to good posture is sitting, especially at the computer. Hunched-over posture at the computer leads to the same when standing. Tight chest muscles, spinal misalignment (rounded upper back/arched lower back), weak mid-back muscles, short and weakened hip flexors and weak butt muscles lead to neck and back pain-if not corrected, the pain and dysfunction only get worse with time. New research has also demonstrated links between body position and mood. We all can tell when a sideline look at a losing football team shows players with a slumped posture, and vice-versa, but the new evidence suggests that slouching can spark negative emotions and thoughts. Bottom line: Look at yourself in the mirror. Pay attention to your head/neck position when on the computer. When on the computer, take a short break every 15 minutes and stretch out. I have a PC workout in my video archives and it works great. Give it a try.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.