5 KEY TO-DOS
1 Check your posture. Take a look at yourself whenever you pass a mirror. Assess your posture regularly, both sitting and standing; it’s easy to pick up bad habits without noticing (see “Two Instant Fixes” below).
2 Change your position regularly. If you have to stay in one position for an extended period of time, try to take a break every 20 minutes, and do some shrugs, neck stretches, shoulder rolls, and arm and back stretches to loosen up your spine.
3 Avoid wearing high heels for extended periods. They accentuate the curve of your back and tilt your pelvis forward, which can contribute to knee and back problems.
4 Carry objects with care. When using a backpack, use both shoulder straps. If carrying a heavy bag, alternate the arm you use. (For advice on body-friendly bags, see page 42.)
5 Adjust your car seat to an upright or slightly reclining position, as this stops you from slouching and reduces the effects of the car’s vibration on your spine.
Two instant fixes you can try now
Ohlhauser offers two quick ways to evaluate—and improve—your posture:
pick a wall, any wall Stand with your back to a wall, and with feet six inches (15 cm) away. Lean back so that your buttocks and shoulders touch the wall. Move your head back until it also touches. This is good posture. If your chin moves up as your head moves back, you have poor posture. If so, do this move three times a day, holding the correct position for 30 seconds. This will help retrain your back muscles.
rearview test Sit in the driver’s seat, and move your head back to touch the headrest. Expand your chest and move shoulders back. Now try to look in the rearview mirror. You will likely find that the mirrow is too low for you, and you’ll have to adjust it. Keep it in that position, and next time you get into the car, you’ll be reminded to maintain that proper neck alignment.
Try this DVD “Standing Tall,” part of the two-DVD set Strong & Healthy Back from Stott Pilates, uses simple and slow moves to help you train yourself to maintain proper body position, lengthen your spine, widen your shoulders and engage your abdominal muscles. The exercises provide a great warm-up routine and encourage proper form for other exercises. (stottpilates.com, $24)