The Knack: How to stand up straight

The Knack

How to stand up straight, by Charles Hunt

Good posture is not about thrusting your chest right forward and your arms right back like a guardsman; it is about maintaining the correct position with the least possible amount of energy. Most common is the problem of slumping. People sit hunched over their desks all day and their pectoral muscles shorten, which causes them to become round-shouldered. There are exercises to ease shoulder tension, which is a major cause (and effect) of bad posture. If you're sitting at your desk, try stretching your hands up in the air as high as you can, as though reaching for something. Then, almost as though you're trying to pull yourself up a cliff, pull downwards.This is good for stretching the all-important shoulder area. Alternatively, stand in a doorway with the insides of your wrists against the door-frame, your arms at 90 degrees to your body, and lunge forward slightly. This stretches the front of your chest and allows your shoulders to move backwards.

Now try to imagine yourself as a Thunderbird puppet.Think of the way they move - it's fluid rather than rigid. Picture a string going up through your head. If this is gently pulled, your head comes up and everything falls correctly beneath it. Practise every day. It's easy to slip into bad postural habits, but it's in your interests to correct them. If you find yourself constantly hunched over, your breathing function will be impaired and your heart will be having to work that bit harder. Fiona McClymont

Charles Hunt DO MRO, is the Head of Clinic Faculty at The British School of Osteopathy, London, tel: 0171-930 9254.

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