Aging well is the name of the game, but there are different ways of looking at age including balance. We think about chronological years when talking about age, or how long ago we were born. While a youthful appearance and good looks are important to many, aging well is not just about how old you look; it’s how old you feel today, and what you can expect for tomorrow.
People think old and stiff rather than old and weak, for good reason. The common bent-over posture of old age occurs as a result of the body adapting to long-term poor posture, which causes biomechanical stress: muscles tighten and the spine and other joints stiffen and breakdown.
Contrary to popular wisdom, aging alone generally does not cause pain. Increasingly, people are exercising to stay strong and active, a good thing. There are four aspects of ﬁtness that all work together for good health.
Four Aspects of Good Health
- Proprioception (or balance)
However, workouts focused on breaking a sweat and breathing hard, possibly with a bit of stretching thrown in, work only the ﬁrst three. Despite being widely recognized as essential for ﬁtness, most people neglect posture and balance training in their exercise programs. This is unfortunate because especially as we age, posture and balance deteriorates and injuries result as people fall down.
Every year a third of Americans over 65 suffer a fall, resulting in 1.8 million Emergency Room visits for fall related injuries in 2003 alone, with 460,000 hospitalization and a sobering 13,700 fatalities.
Balance and Posture Training. Not just for seniors.
Elite athletes and weekend warriors alike can signiﬁcantly improve both performance and the beneﬁts of exercise by addressing how the body aligns and balances. Since posture is HOW you balance your body, when your sense of balance is off your body must compensate to stay upright.
As posture becomes progressively more bent forward (what is typically referred to as poor posture), muscles are forced to work harder to keep the body balanced. Some muscles tighten while others weaken with worsening muscle imbalance, which explains why low back pain sufferers show loss of the deep posture control muscles.
“The BAM (Balance, Alignment, Motion) model behind the StrongPosture® protocols train people to become aware of their sensory misperceptions of their posture. As full-range motion is restored, the goal becomes retraining towards greater symmetry (balance) in life as they sit and stand, walk and run, work and play. Postural asymmetry begins with balance, and is so important that the entire first step of my program, 7 Steps to StrongPosture is dedicated to improving balance dramatically!” Dr. Steven Weiniger, leading posture expert.
Posture is not just about how you look, but can actually affect how long and how well you live. Research shows that people who move well and have strong posture age better. Even small changes in the ability to move has been documented to improve quality of life in older people, and signiﬁcant changes have been documented from posture exercise focused on improving an individual’s core strength and control.
Dr. Steven Weiniger