“I walk like an old person in the morning,” one of my clients told me. I wondered if she hobbled, shuffled, took short steps, or was just stiff, so I asked her what she meant.
“I have horrible posture.” Oh.
The elderly often stoop under a heavy cloak of past injury and poor habit. On the other end of the spectrum, toddlers spring up from the ground without the burden of malformed muscle and connective tissue.
Parents have more information to pass on about the birds and the bees than they do about good posture. So most people run around with the mistaken notion that pulling shoulders back is the correct way to stand tall, but doing so actually adds tension to the upper back and is one of the most common habits that eventually leads to a stoop.
Good posture is so simple and it builds core muscles, heals injury, and perpetuates more ease.
Rather than concentrating on the upper body to stand tall, focus your attention on the feet and legs. Make sure your hips are not forward of your ankles—most people need to shift their hips back and move the torso slightly forward. Try it and notice how this alignment requires your inner abdominals to work.
From here, relax your arms at your sides. If you feel you could be taller, lift your chest, push your feet into the ground and reach through the crown of your head. Your shoulders naturally fall back and down without strain when you lift your heart.
While this “ground-up” method is not familiar, most people are often surprised at how easy it is to have good posture. The “shoulders-back” method is a heavy burden that doesn’t need to be born by anyone—young or old. You can take a few years off your frame by practicing ground-up posture every day.