Today our expert guest is Steven Weiniger, an internationally-renowned posture expert. He literally wrote the book on posture: Stand Taller~Live Longer. In addition to a busy speaking calendar, he is a prolific writer and serves as managing partner of BodyZone.com, an online health resource and referral directory.
Most recently, Dr. Weiniger developed PostureZone, a free app that encourages people to assess their own posture and offers tips for postural improvement.
What is a posture specialist?
A posture specialist can help you become aware of your posture, assess what you do with your body, and then teach you how to strengthen your posture.
Your posture isn’t inherently good or bad. Different bodies are shaped differently, and posture is a very personal thing. Improving your posture is about accurately connecting with your body and moving it in a way that’s better adapted for the world.
What effect does posture have on your health?
- Most obviously, there’s back pain and neck pain, which are epidemic.
- People lose height as they get older. However, a 20-year study looking at men’s height observed that the people who lost the most height were 64% more likely to die during the study. They concluded that hunching over negatively affects your health because it compresses your chest and you can’t breathe as deeply.
- Another study looking at the head posture of women over 60 observed that participants who could not lay on their back and keep their head level had a 1.44x greater risk of dying during the 4.2 year study.
What are strategies for strengthening your posture?
The way we use smart devices, particularly phones and tablets, is changing our posture. Obviously, you can’t quit your phone cold turkey, but you can make the choices to live intelligently in the world we live in:
- Instead of putting your head down to your phone, on your shoulder, lift your phone up to your head and look straight forward.
- At the same time, stabilize your torso by pulling your shoulders back and down, putting your elbows into your sides, and then lifting your hand up so your phone is in front of your face.
If you often work at a desk, which can’t be avoided, you can optimize your work environment so that you don’t have to be constantly mindful of maintaining good posture.
- Use an adjustable sit and stand desk. The body is designed to move, so being able to adjust the desk is important.
- If you have to take a phone call, try using a headset and taking a walk while you do it.
- Take frequent, short breaks to move a little bit and, ideally, do mini posture exercises. This strategy also works well for frequent flyers.
ACE your posture:
- Awareness – There’s always a path towards improvement, but you have to be aware of where you are now if you want to improve.
- Control – It only takes a few minutes or a couple proactive choices to improve your posture on a daily basis.
- Environment – Changing your environment will promote good habits that allow you to maintain stronger posture.
PostureZone is a free app that will show the user, using a picture of them, where their body is in space. It’s a simple and useful tool for postural awareness.
Your posture is what you are doing, when you’re not thinking about it, to balance your body. At all times, you’re balancing these key posture zones:
- Head over torso
- Torso over pelvis
- Pelvis over where you’re standing
The app brackets those masses, calculates the center of those masses, and offers a numerical observation that shows the angle of deviation from straight vertical.
Many people think that they can stand tall when they want to, but they’re wrong. People who use the app are sometimes blown away by the difference between their perception of where their body is and the photographic reality.
Dr. Weiniger isn’t trying to promote perfect posture – the app gives you a benchmark of how you’re standing when you think you’re standing tall so you can measure improvement over time.
The Biggest Helping: Today’s Most Important Takeaway
First, become aware of your posture and connect with what it feels like to stand tall.
Afterwards, try to strengthen that by improving your balance. The first exercise that Dr. Weiniger teaches people is called Stork: stand tall and lift one leg up to your thighs, 90 degrees from the ground, and take five slow breaths.
If you can’t balance without support, that’s fine. The goal isn’t balancing – the goal is standing tall.
Thank you for joining us on The Daily Helping with Dr. Shuster. Subscribe to the show on iTunes, Stitcher, or Google Play to download more food for the brain, knowledge from the experts, and tools to win at life.