This post is part of the Gorgeous 50’s series inspired by a book given to me by one of my sisters on my 50th birthday – ‘Grown up and Gorgeous in your 50’s’ by Pamela Robson. I will be sharing some of Pamela’s words and my own thoughts along the way. To see all posts published as part of this series, go here.
Your 50s is the time to tackle your posture – you really don’t want to be a stooping 60-year-old! Losing strength in your core muscles – that run from your pelvis up to your neck – can alter the way you stand and lead to a pot belly. Gradually, you also start to develop rounded shoulders and the classic rounded spine of old age. If you spend your working life hunched over a computer, it’s all the worse. A good idea is to see a musculo-skeletal expert (such as a physiotherapist). They’ll work on your back, chest and neck muscles to stretch and strengthen them in all the right places. Your private medical insurer may cover some of the costs.
Simple posture correctors
When you stand, be conscious of clenching your buttocks and pushing forward your pelvic bones. When working at the computer, get up every hour or so, and stretch everything back in the opposite direction. Clasp your hands behind your back and pull your shoulder blades together – feel your chest muscles stretch outwards.
The chest stretch
Stand in an open doorway. Place your hands level with your shoulders on the door frame. Your elbows should also be resting on the door frame. Inhale and, on the exhale, step forward a half step; stay breathing evenly for 20 to 30 seconds. Inhale and, as you exhale, bring the leg back again. Repeat, stepping forward with your other leg.
The back straightener
Take a bath towel, fold it lengthwise and then roll it up to make a sausage. Lie on the floor looking up at the ceiling. Place the rolled-up towel under your back, vertically along your spine, between the shoulder blades and down to about your waist. Feel your body weight pull the chest muscles so that they open out and stretch. Stay there for 10 minutes. Then place the towel horizontally under your back – so that it follows your bra strap – and feel your spine return to a normal position.
As a child, teen and young adult I was constantly told by my mother to sit up straight or I’ll end up with rounded shoulders and a hump back when I get older, so um … yep … I’ve been made aware that I slouch!
As I’ve gotten older, I catch myself when I’m slouching because my back starts to ache, so I find myself regularly correcting how I’m sitting so that I’m sitting up straight with my shoulders back, and it does feel better. I don’t have a ramrod straight back and shoulders situation though. My shoulders are a bit rounded, but I hope I’m doing what I can to keep things from getting worse.
It’s a problem though, when you spend a good portion of your day sitting at a desk working away on a computer. When I lived the corporate life in the city this was the case and it still is now as I do a lot of writing and editing at my computer in my new life (but do make sure I get up and away from the desk often). So, in addition to good posture, this is where the exercises that Pamela shares above come in handy. Also important is exercise. Yes, again we are told we need to exercise. We really do! ‘Use it or lose it’ is fact! I do Reformer Pilates and it is excellent for strengthening my core and back and provides wonderful stretches.
Recently, I saw a friend of my mother’s for the first time in a long time. She is also the mother of a girl I went to school with. I was so shocked when I saw her. She has the classic hump on her back. It’s called ‘Dowagers Hump‘. She didn’t have that the last time I had seen her. It looked terribly painful and uncomfortable. She couldn’t even stand up straight. I know I wouldn’t want to spend my final years that way.
What do you do to look after your posture and back health?
Ciao for now,
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This is such a good reminder. I sit in my chair on my bum for at least 10 hours a day. And I have scoliosis to start with so should know better. This is my reminder to set an alarm to do some stretches. At least.
I’d have never known you have scoliosis Jo. This post is a good reminder to me too. I need to do more regular stretches at home during computer breaks. Very pleased I have committed to my regular Reformer Pilates classes though as they have gone a long way towards strengthening my core and we do some fabulous stretches. Hope you have a fabulous trip away you lucky thing! 🙂 xo
I definitely hunch over too much and spend too much time at my desk. My dad had very rolled shoulders and couldn’t lie on the ground and put them on the ground or his head down. Pilates and yoga have both helped me but I need to be more conscious of them throughout the day and look at my posture and do the exercises suggested in your post!!!
I need to do those exercises suggested in my post too! So pleased I’ve locked in the regular pilates at least! 🙂
I’m tall (as you know) and tend to slump rather than stand tall – (damn lack of confidence!) and adding to that all the years spent as a dental therapist bent over people’s mouths, then add the computer work and reading and generally being lazy…..and my posture leaves quite a bit to be desired at times. I am conscious of it and do try to straighten up and pull my shoulders back when I remember. Now I just need to work on that core of mine that is sadly lacking! Thanks for the reminder Min x
Being conscious of it and taking some steps to look after ourselves is all we can do. Good luck at finding what you enjoy to look after that core Leanne! It’s worth it! 🙂 xo
Sitting at my desk I am automatically sitting better after reading this. I ‘know’ I do somethings wrong posture wise here and I sometimes pay for it. However, I have made many adjustments over the years and here’s what works for me:
1. I have a soft long old wheat bag for my wrists to rest on as I type as my wrists had carpal tunnel surgery x 2 and I have arthritis in the hands. It also keeps my hands at the right angle as my physio showed me
2. I have an adjustable foot rest and this for me, the shorty is ideal
3. Lastly I have a really good chair.
I know I should take more breaks and tend to do this unless I am powering through a blog post. My core is shot. I am enquiring about some physio soon to help with an internal problem. Sigh. Ageing sucks.
Fantastic 3 steps you’ve listed to ensure you’re sitting ‘ergonomically’ at your desk Denyse! Good move to do something to strengthen up your core. Good luck! Aging sure isn’t for the faint-hearted that’s for sure! 😉 xo
My husband often remarks to me that I slouch over my laptop computer so this post really resonates with me. I truly believe whatever exercise we do as we age will hopefully also take care of our posture. As you know I also do reformer pilates and I believe this helps my posture. Thanks for the reminder, I’m going to stand straight and pull my shoulders back right now!!
I think pilates is fantastic for our posture because posture all comes from a strong core and pilates is all about strengthening our core and of course there are all the great stretches we do. Walking and as you say … anything active helps too! Regardless, I think we all need a reminder to sit up straight and pull our shoulders back! 😉
I was also told as a teenager to stand up straight and I do try really hard these days! A great reminder and helpful tips for all of us, thanks Min.
Thanks Deb! Glad I’m not the only one who was told to stand up straight, sit up straight, pull my shoulders back etc! 🙂
Well, I found myself sitting up straighter as I read this post! Sitting at a computer for a good portion of the day doesn’t help my posture any, so I try to remember to get up and stretch. And I agree with you that I don’t want to be an older, slumped over woman! Thank you for the reminders.
Thanks Candi – I think its impossible to read this post and not notice whether you’re slouching or not and if so, straighten up! LOL It’s a good reminder to us all! 🙂