Strengthen Posture to Fight the Freshman 15
In addition to weight gain, college-aged adults face a lesser-known and unflattering issue: poor posture.
Because our modern society spends most of its time sitting, posture has become problematic not only for middle-aged adults and seniors, but also for teens and young adults.
Dr. Christian Cho, Seattle chiropractor and Certified Posture Exercise Professional (CPEP® Posture Specialist), sees it every day in his practice – young, otherwise healthy adults with early signs of “old person” posture.
“Walk on any college campus and you will notice that most students have their iPhones, iPads, Androids, laptops, tablets, books, or backpacks on. The common denominator is that all of these ‘devices’ are leading to a college epidemic: ‘hunching,’ or hunchback posture.”
How much difference could our slumped computing habits make?
Dr. Cho argues that it is something to be considered seriously. “Poor posture develops from head-forward posture, slouching shoulders, a rounded spine, and chin tucking. More and more people are developing these poor postures, leading to symptoms such as headaches, neck pain, torticollis, pain through the shoulders and upper back, and even difficulty breathing.”
Even with daily habits that strengthen student posture in a folded position – which of course is not optimal – you can improve your posture. Dr. Steven Weiniger, author of Stand Taller~Live Longer, is adamant that making an effort to improve posture will pay off with a longer and leaner appearance, plus help improve your concentration and energy level to get you up, and through those 8:00 a.m. classes.
“Strong Posture trains you to fully engage your core, as well as lengthen and align your neck. As you stand taller, in addition to looking thinner and more confident, you literally breathe better and can burn more calories! Deeper breathing leads to better whole-body efficiency to stay alert and energized throughout the day,” says Dr. Weiniger.
There is no need to carve out blocks of study (or extracurricular) time to achieve stronger posture– many of the exercises you can do in a few minutes a day.
BALANCE – The One-Leg Balance Stork
1. FIRST, Stand up straight and find your Best Posture. THEN, lift your knee so your foot comes off the ground. Slowly count and stop the first time you have to put your foot down or wave your arms to balance. (Don’t cheat!)
2. Repeat on the other side.
3. How long can you balance on your left leg? On your right one?
You should be able to balance on each leg for at least twenty seconds. If you cannot, this is a sign of weak posture. This is the first step in becoming posture aware, the baseline for your progression.
ALIGNMENT – BallSit with StrongPosture
Required equipment – Exercise ball
1. Sit on the ball.
2. Place your feet hip distance apart and square on the floor. Be aware if your ankles are rolled in or out.
3. Knees should be at 90 degrees, with your heel directly beneath the knee.
4. Roll the shoulders back and down, pulling the tips of the shoulder blades together with your hands on your thighs, palms up.
5. Looking straight ahead, pull your head directly over the shoulders by gently pulling the neck back, keeping your head level.
6. Take five (5) slow, deep breaths.
MOTION – BallSit conscious motion
Required equipment – Exercise ball
1. Enter into BallSit with StrongPosture
2. Move the ball around, first front and back, then side to side.
3. Try to keep the ball as still as you can and move your arms and shoulders.
4. Bend forward and touch the floor.
5. Bend to your left and to your right and touch the floor on each side.
6. Repeat each movement three (3) times.
Dr. Cho urges college students to take heed of their posture and work on correction and strengthening, not just to improve their looks, but also to develop a beneficial life habit.
“Strong Posture exercises are geared to stabilize the neck and encourage correct posture and alignment. I show posture exercises and stretching to patients with great results – they feel better, look taller, breathe more deeply, have improved balance, and feel so much more confident and healthier overall. Posture exercises are by far the most valuable and necessary tool for overall health and wellness, especially for young adults looking to live long, active lives.”
Dr. Steven Weiniger