This weekend’s challenge is a posture improver, intended to flatten the upper back by pushing back the shoulders and curving the spine forward (the opposite of the slumped, rounded-out spinal position so common today).
This is an effective move to counteract kyphosis, Forward Head Posture, and other conditions associated with slouching. Also, it’s appropriate for all fitness levels, and believe me, it’s more challenging than it first appears!
You might be wondering why there are so many Weekend Challenges that focus on posture. The simple answer is: because it is crucial!
The truth is that posture has a profound effect on your bone health, but also so much more. Here are some little-known reasons why good posture matters so much.
When you’re in a slouched position, your lungs can’t expand to draw a deep breath. Your diaphragm muscle is compressed, so it can’t do its job in helping you draw in a deep breath. Shallow breathing acidifies the body because it allows carbon dioxide to accumulate. This can cause metabolic acidosis, a situation that requires your body to pull buffering minerals out of your bones to correct the imbalance.
On the other hand, deep breathing alkalizes your system, which stops bone loss by creating an environment that does not require your bones to “donate” calcium.
“Good Stress” On Bones
Aligned bones are positioned so that the force of muscles and gravity stimulates bone growth and strength. When your shoulders are rounded or your head is poked forward as in Forward Head Posture (FHP), the bones and joints of the spine, shoulders, arms, ribs, and chest are all out of alignment. So movement that would have normally stimulated bone growth, can cause inflammation and pain instead. And your bones can’t build properly without the stress necessary to stimulate them in the right places.
Chances are you haven’t thought about digestive health in relation to posture. But consider this: when you’re hunched over, your abdomen is greatly compressed, making it much harder for your digestive organs to function properly. Good digestion is essential for the absorption of nutrients your bones must have to rejuvenate and stay strong.
Avoiding Dowager’s Hump (Kyphosis)
Poor posture can hasten the appearance of kyphosis (the dreaded Dowager’s Hump), a condition that’s associated with aging and osteoporosis. As the thoracic and cervical vertebrae remain in a forward-hunched position for many hours a day, the muscles that normally hold them in place grow weak and become stretched. The shoulder joints become rounded and deformed, the ribs compress, and the chest collapses inward, creating a hunchbacked appearance.
Improved Emotional And Psychological Health
One really fascinating aspect of posture is that it can affect our mental state. Not surprisingly, people who feel more confident and energetic have a more upright posture. But what may come as a surprise to you is that the reverse is also true: walking with proper posture can improve our mood.
An intriguing study shows this connection – participants who walked in a slumped, shuffling manner remembered more negative words from a list than those who walked in an upright, energetic fashion.1
And this is about more than appearing confident. Our bones are negatively impacted by depression and sadness. So an improved mood is an important component of bone health, adding yet another reason for achieving proper posture.
Less Back Pain
Misaligned vertebrae and slumped shoulders are very painful. Even though you may be unaware of it, your muscles are constantly straining to bring your skeleton back into alignment, pulling against gravity all the while. With good posture, gravity works with you to allow a relaxed, balanced stance that doesn’t require constant muscle strain.
Look Younger And Thinner
A hunchbacked posture is inevitably associated with age; a stooped, bent position adds years to your appearance. Poor posture can also appear to add pounds, because your abdomen “pooches” out under the compression. In addition, bad posture takes inches off your height, making you look shrunken. But when you stand up straight and hold your abs in and your shoulders back (in an easy stance, not forced), you immediately look much younger. And as the research shows, you feel younger, too!
So if you’re ready to look and feel younger, thinner, and more positive and energetic, grab an exercise mat and get started!
- Lie on your stomach with your chin slightly above the floor (don’t let any part of your head touch the floor).
- Interlace your fingers behind your head, or place your hands behind your head so the fingertips lightly touch.
- Keeping your chin just above the floor and your hands behind your head, lift your elbows up and back, slightly above the level of your upper back.
- Lift your elbows eight to 10 times, stopping if it feels uncomfortable or painful.
If you’d like to add a little extra toning to this move, extend your legs straight out behind you and lift your feet off the floor, pointing your toes and keeping your legs straight. Hold this position while you lift your elbows.
This works the glutes, or buttocks muscles, and aids pelvic alignment.
As you can see, this exercise directly counteracts the rounded shoulders and back that occur with poor posture. It curves the spine in the opposite direction, and brings the shoulder joints back into alignment by working the muscles that hold them in place.
Good Posture Helps Many Aspects Of Your Health, Including Your Bones
As you can see, good posture covers quite an array of health issues. The way you hold your body has a profound impact on your wellbeing and your bone health, making good posture an important goal in your fight against osteoporosis.
In addition to moves specifically designed to strengthen bones and increase their density, the Densercise™ Epidensity Training System contains plenty of postural exercises, so you can strengthen the muscles that hold your spine, shoulders, and head in place.
You can practice the Densercise™ exercises anytime, anywhere, and it only takes three 15-minute sessions per week to see results!
Take Exercising For Your Bones to the Next Level!
Learn the 52 exercise moves that jumpstart bone-building – all backed by the latest in epigenetics research.
Have a great weekend!
1 Michalak, Johannes, et al. “How we walk affects what we remember: Gait modifications through biofeedback change negative affective memory bias.” Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. March 2015. Vol 46, pp 121-125. Web. http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S00057916140008090