5 Reasons Good Posture Is Important!  

 

What if I told you that improving your posture will improve your life?

If good posture isn’t important to you, it should be.

There are many reasons why your mother or teacher nagged you to sit up straight and it has nothing to do with looking good (although looking good could be a reason unto itself J)

Sitting, standing and moving well is incredibly important because doing these things incorrectly can result in discomfort, stiffness, and pain.

  • Sitting or standing with poor posture can impede healthy breathing. Slouching puts pressure on the ribs, lungs, diaphragm and the other muscles associated with breathing. Try this little experiment: where you are right now, slouch or slump, then take a breath. See how shallow your breathing is? When you slouch or slump you cannot breathe deeply and easily.
  • Slumping can cause pain. Poor posture bypasses your postural muscles and puts undue stress on your ancillary muscular system.  This causes pain.  To understand why let’s talk a little bit about anatomy. You have two types of muscles used to support and move your skeleton: postural muscles and phasic muscles. Your postural muscles include spinal muscles, some of your abdominal muscles, hip flexors, calf muscles, and so on. These muscles are designed to work all day long, maintaining your posture. Your phasic muscles are your biceps, trapezius, triceps, etc. They are designed to perform short sprints of work such as carrying the groceries or washing a window. When your posture is poor you rely less on your postural muscles and more on your phasic muscles to maintain your posture. The phasic muscles don’t like to work long hours. Remember, they only like to do short stints of work. That’s why when you carry a gallon of milk for 20 blocks and don’t change arms your arm aches! Poor posture shortens postural muscles and limits their mobility, and this affects strength and can also cause pain and stiffness. Good posture does the opposite and lengthens postural muscles. 
  •  Slouching impedes digestion. According to an article in the Harvard Health Letter, poor posture can lead to incontinence. “Slouching increases abdominal pressure, which puts pressure on the bladder. ” Poor posture can also lead to heartburn and slowed digestion, according to Dr. Kyle Staller. “Slouching puts pressure on the abdomen, which can force stomach acid in the wrong direction. And some evidence suggests that transit in the intestines slows down when you slouch.” It just makes sense that standing up taller makes digestion easier.
  • Better posture means better balance. Think about it. Your head weighs anywhere from 10-15 pounds. Essentially you have a bowling ball sitting on the top of your spine. If your head isn’t beautifully poised on top of the spine then you will be off balance.  Your body will contort itself in every conceivable way to maintain balance so that your head doesn’t hit the ground. 

  •  Better posture translates into dynamic movement. When you have poor posture, your body has to work overtime to maintain balance. This causes excessive muscular tension throughout the body. Tense muscles don’t move easily. It is that simple. Try this. Tense your toes either by lifting them up or scrunching them. Now try to walk. What happens? You can’t walk freely or easily. Or try this. Clench your jaw. Now turn your head. Same thing! Right? You cannot move your head as easily. This is a basic tenet of the Alexander Technique: letting go of unnecessary muscular tension frees up your movement and makes moving easier. Moving more easily makes your movement more dynamic and coordinated.

So why not make this year the year to improve the way that you sit, stand, walk, and even run? Your health depends on it. 

Teaching people how to move well is my passion. Sign up for posts that teach you how to be more comfortable in your body! Click here to sign up or use the form to the right of this post!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling book  Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Techniquea mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

You can learn more about the Alexander Technique here.

Walk This Way! Why Your Big Toe Is Important.

When you walk or stroll well, your head leads the movement and your foot comes forward to prevent you from falling on the ground.

Have you ever heard that walking is “controlled falling”?

Toddler walking
Walking is controlled falling. Photo: Unsplash, Joao Alves

Imagine a child first learning how to walk.

Most adults shift their weight from side to side when they walk. If you were to exaggerate this movement, it would look like a waddle, but if you watch a child walk, they walk forward and straight.

Children don’t waddle when they walk.

One problem with the waddle is that you lose the momentum that each step generates. It’s as if you are applying a brake with each step. Instead, if you think of yourself walking forward and not side to side, you will discover that your legs and feet will dynamically flow underneath you. Walking dynamically with forward intention will make walking easier and more efficient.

Another problem with the waddle is that the foot doesn’t articulate with the ground in a dynamic way, thus having an undesirable effect on balance and stride. When your foot works well, it strikes the ground slightly to the outside and to the front of the heel. Your weight then crosses the large arch, the medial-longitudinal arch, over to the big toe.

Your big toe has two very important jobs. It helps you balance, and it propels you forward. Many adults do not engage the big toe at all. Instead, they hold the toe up and only walk on the soles of their feet. This inevitably results in the side-to-side waddle. People who do this to an extreme will create holes with their big toes on the tops of their sneakers and slippers.

If you were to exaggerate this movement, you would eventually shuffle.

The good news is that if you are shuffling now, with a little conscious thought, you can stop shuffling and move into a dynamic walk.

Shoes that fit well with a pliable and thin sole are essential for happy feet and dynamic walking. Here is a Keen sandal at Amazon. I absolutely love, love, love this shoe

Stay away from bulky, padded sneakers that, although comfortable, are not flexible.

Your toes need to be able to splay as you move. Your feet need to flex and adjust in order to keep you balanced.

Make sure that your shoes are large enough to accommodate this movement. Also, overly tight socks can impede movement and diminish balance.

If you are unsteady on your feet or you fear falling, hiking poles are a great way to ensure balance and gain confidence.

Whether you use one or two poles is up to you, but the added point of contact is a huge benefit. Used by hikers and climbers worldwide, the hiking pole is lightweight yet sturdy.

The pole height is adjustable, and it comes with a strap that goes around your wrist. To customize the height, hold your forearms at a right angle from your upper arm.

You can purchase hiking poles at many sporting-goods stores or at Amazon here.

Last week I talked about the benefits of turning your power walk into a stroll. You can see that article here.

Next week I will give  more instruction on how to improve your balance while walking.

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

Walk? How To Turn That Power Walk Into A Mindful Stroll!

 


Do you walk or do you stroll?

One of the best ways to savor summer is to take a stroll.

Don't walk instead stroll and slow down to admire the beautiful hummingbird.
Slow down, take a stroll, and cultivate mindfulness.
Photo: Andrea Reiman

You may be wondering why I use the word stroll instead of walk.

Taking a stroll is much different than taking a walk. A walk implies purpose, a stroll implies less intent.

A stroll allows for wandering. Just the sound of the word “stroll” is easier on the ear.

Walking has a job to do. Strolling is like going on vacation.

The Merriam Webster dictionary lists stroll’s synonyms as to saunter, to amble, and to ramble.

Oh, I like the sound of those words!

To take a walk means something else. It has a goal.

One walks for fitness. One walks to lose weight. You take a walk to clear your head. Some people take walks to elevate their heart rate or to increase bone density. Others take their dogs out for a walk. And still, there are those who walk to “get their steps in!”

 

But what if you changed your mindset about walking and instead took a stroll?

Instead of walking briskly to lose weight and improve your cardiovascular system, what if you intentionally slowed down to a stroll and noticed the birds singing in the trees or your neighbor’s blooming sunflowers?

On your next stroll, you may notice that you are breathing more deeply, that you feel calmer or that perhaps those negative anxiety-creating thoughts have calmed down. Your stroll has turned into an expression of mindfulness.

Are we losing sight of the value of slowing down so that we can relish our world…stopping to smell the roses?

 

 

Don't walk instead take a stroll and smell the beautiful roses.
Stop and smell the roses! Photo: Unsplash, Osman Rana

 

According to the Positive Psychology Program, among other benefits, a mindful stroll can:

  • Reduce stress
  • Increase immune function
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Lower heart rate
  • Increase awareness
  • Increase attention and focus
  • Increase clarity in thinking and perception
  • Lower anxiety levels
  • Increase experience of being calm and internally still
  • Increase experience of feeling connected

Doesn’t that sound great! Who doesn’t want REDUCED STRESS!!!

I say let’s change the emphasis and take a stroll. Let me know how it goes. What do you notice about yourself and the world around you?

My next article will teach you how to stroll and walk better.

Here is another article on savoring summer!

How You Move Matters! You can learn how to move better with my Amazon bestselling bookAgility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence.  My book is illustrated with 40 videos that you access with your iPad or smartphone!


 You can purchase it here. 

My name is Mary Derbyshire. I am a fitness and movement coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique, a mindfulness practice that teaches you how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves! Let me know what you think or ask a question! I love to hear from my readers! Feel free to post in the comments section below and feel free to share this with your friends!

 

Self-Care Is Health Care

The lion is roaring self- care is health care!
Photo: Unsplash, Lemuel Butler

Have you ever taken the time to consider that self-care is health care?

I think that this is a very important message so please read on.

I like to think that most times I am a pretty easygoing person.

Certainly, I am easy going with the exercise classes I teach.

I call them ExTension Classes! Get it?

I let people come and go as they please and only pay for the classes they attend. I never raise an eyebrow when someone hasn’t shown up in ages. I smile and nod and warmly great them.

Well, a few months ago that all changed! I was like the lion in the photo!

I went on a rant and I roared and I became very pointed and direct and said to the group “It is the New Year and it is time for you to resolve to yourself that you will attend class on a regular basis! This is your resolution. Exercise does not work unless you do it consistently! You need to make a commitment to yourself to attend class regularly. That means put it in your calendar so that when the Dr.’s office, or a friend, or anybody says “Can you make it at 9 Monday?” you say “No, I cannot make it at 9 I have my exercise class!”

Done! Easy! You put yourself first!

I think that my rant was well received and gave my class a bit more direction. My rant prompted a wonderful conversation that ensued the following week.

The topic was self-care.

We know to eat well. We know to catch 8 hours of shuteye. We know that we need to exercise.
But do you know this?

No one can take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself. Not one person.

You have to be your own caretaker.

Self -care is health care.

Taking care of yourself means moving more. Not just exercise. You need to move much of the day every day!

The human body was designed to move and our culture is way too sedentary. We are sitting ourselves to death.

We rely too much on doctors and medicine to do the things that consistent self-care can address. Moving well and moving more is one of the best things you can do to improve your quality of life.

So make a resolution to move more. Make a resolution to commit to self-care and see how your health improves. As I said before no one can take care of you as well as you can take care of yourself.

I will make a resolution to go on more rants and teach you more ways to improve your self- care. Deal?
Let me know how you are bringing more movement into your life!

You can purchase my Amazon bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here.

Or sign up for my course 5 Ways to Heal Back Pain here.

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mary Derbyshire and I am a movement and fitness coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique and I am passionate about getting people moving and teaching people how to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your life improves. You CAN learn how to move better and I can teach you!

 

What Is Stopping You?

“Certainty is a cruel mindset”

      Ellen Langer, Counterclockwise      

           

 

Want to know what really gets in the way of aging gracefully?

Preconceived ideas. 

Let me give you an example.

The other day a woman came to me for a session. She is in her 80’s and has been working with me for a while. She has some balance issues due to arthritis but all things considered she does incredibly well.

However this week she came in with a very painful hip and was having trouble sitting, standing and walking.

When she got to the chair and sat down she was feeling so defeated that she felt like she could not get up from the chair. In fact, she tried to stand but could not.

She believed that it was her age that was preventing her from getting out of the chair and that perhaps she would never be able to get up unassisted again.

I knew that it was her self-limiting belief that was preventing her from standing and not her ability nor her age.

I could feel the defeat and frustration build in her to the point of tears. She was so focused on her hip and her failure to stand up that indeed she could not get out of the chair.

So I changed her focus. I asked her to sing a song with me. We started singing “Hello Dolly.” And you know what? She got out of the chair like a 10-year-old. She popped in and out of the chair 3 or 4 more times.

Because she was moving better she no longer had the pain in her hip. We walked around the room. At this point, we had sung snippets of a half dozen songs and she was laughing.

We had interrupted her self-limiting preconceived idea that her hip was failing her and that she would never be able to sit and stand easily again.

Self-limiting preconceived ideas and beliefs– we all have them.

They influence our expectations of ourselves and of others but most often, these preconceptions are self-limiting beliefs.

More often than not, our expectations of ourselves are limiting, not encouraging.

They are based on old tapes that are going around and around in your head. Preconceived ideas are not based on what is actually taking place here and now.

They are based on the past and are not relevant for today.

These self-limiting beliefs become a mindset and this mindset eventually becomes a reality.

I call this place of limiting self-belief the Rat Hole.

The Rat Hole becomes a vicious circle.

Round and round you go focusing and obsessing about your limitations and what you can’t do.

You become disengaged from your active life and retreat to a place of discouragement and self -doubt.

And then you start to believe in the stereotypes about aging and what it means to get older. You invest yourself in these stereotypes and cannot imagine yourself any other way.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

You do not have to do a 180-degree turn to change. All you have to do is shift your position or attitude a few degrees to set off on a different course.

What are your preconceived ideas about aging that could be limiting you?

Here are some that I have heard:

  1. Pain and stiffness are an integral part of getting older.

This is false. Pain and stiffness are often the results of how you do what you do. Pain and stiffness are not an inevitable part of getting older. If sitting is painful for you then chances are it is the way that you are sitting that is causing the pain. You can learn how to sit differently. In my next video “Slouch No More” you will learn simple ways to improve your sitting.

  1. I am too old to change the way I do things.

This is false. Change occurs by bringing attention or mindfulness to your activities. We can learn at any age. You are never too old to change.

  1. My balance will inevitably become compromised.

Ok, so it is true that your balance decreases as you age but by challenging your sense of balance that decline can be reversed and drastically improved. There are some very simple ways that you can challenge and improve your balance. 

  1. I’m a failure. I try hard to do X but I can’t do it no matter how hard I try.

Guess what: it’s not you. It is the trying that is getting in your way. Don’t try. Stop trying. Think of allowing yourself to do the activity. To allow is a much more constructive way to approach a task.

  1. I’m in pain now and thus I will never be able to go back to doing the things I love the most. My pain has put me in a place of inevitable decline.

The truth is that many of the aches and pains that we experience are caused by how we do things. You can learn how to move with less pain and stiffness. Pain and stiffness do not have to be an inevitable downward spiral. You can regain those activities that you thought you would never be able to do again.

You can purchase my Amazon Bestselling book Agility at Any Age: Discover the Secret to Balance, Mobility, and Confidence here. 

Plus I would LOVE to hear from you!

Be sure to sign up for my newsletter for more tips on how to get out of the rat hole of self- limiting preconceived ideas…

Book your session with me today and learn how to move with better balance, agility, and ease!

My name is Mary Derbyshire and I am a movement and fitness coach. My methodology is the Alexander Technique a mindfulness practice that teaches you HOW to move better. When you move better you feel better and when you feel better your whole life improves. I am passionate about teaching how to move and to keep them moving!