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,