The Health Dangers of Poor Posture… How Ancient “Sinking” Can Help Correct It
By Herb Borkland, Health Writer
One of the worst things you can do for your back is to sit down. That’s because the “C”-shaped posture most people slump into puts serious stress on the spine. You may not feel any discomfort right now, but the medical consensus is bad posture will cause you pain… sooner or later.
Health-aware people need to take proactive steps. Especially nowadays when so much time is spent sitting in front of flatscreens. On the other hand, the economy is tough, and the average person can expect to pay $60 to $90 for an hour massage, while the cost of chiropractic care ranges from $40 to $100 per session.
Luckily, one of the world’s oldest, easiest and most-effective posture-correcting and tension-relieving exercises is cost-free.
“Sinking your weight” is a traditional wellness treasure you can practice anywhere, effortlessly, and without ever moving a muscle. Now is a great time to learn how to stand up in a whole new way.
Start by standing up straight, feet a shoulder’s-width apart, arms loose by your sides, anywhere it’s quiet and comfortable. Relax. Pretend you are a puppet hanging by one golden thread from the top of your head. Notice how the neck stretches out, and your shoulders settle down.
Are you under the mistaken impression that keeping certain muscles tense is what holds you up? Not so. The simple point of sinking your weight is to relax as much as possible each and every muscle group from the top of your body to the soles of your feet. We begin by consciously loosening the neck, shoulders, back, chest… right on down to the toes.
A beginner’s first pass will never sufficiently relax all the muscles. Expect to keep repeating your scan-check, paying closer attention to each group. The process of loosening up from head to toe begins to feel as if you are slowly sinking your body weight down the length of your body. First, the torso starts to feel lighter.
The hardest part of the body to free-up is the pelvis. Ideally, it should be tilted slightly forward, your buttocks tucked in a little. When you sink your weight, you will need to keep checking back to consciously re-relax those hips again.
Standing up for a while, especially if you aren’t used to it, can cause your legs to tire. You know the feeling — your thighs and calves begin trembling or get that old burning sensation. What people usually do, if we have to keep standing, is to shift our weight. This displaces the muscular tensions somewhere else in our legs but doesn’t change the problem, which soon sets in again.
You can completely conquer twitchy tired legs — be able to stand comfortably indefinitely with perfect posture — by learning how to sink your weight into your thighs, past the knees and down through your calves. This is tricky, but, with a little practice for a few minutes a day, the twitchy discomfort goes away.
A time comes when you hang by the golden thread, settle your weight down through your body and, finally, right through your feet into the floor. From then on, even simple walking will feel lighter, more limber, sometimes almost like dancing. More importantly, your posture will be undistorted by the spinal stress and muscular tensions “C” slump-sitting causes.
In a way, it’s all about the economy. Back pain, including sciatica, is one of the leading reasons for workplace absenteeism and ranks fifth yearly among causes of expenditures in U.S. hospitals. Ergonomic office chairs cost anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. So a simple cost-benefit analysis proves ‘sinking your weight’ for free is the smart way to keep you healthy and happy.
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Written By: Updated: July 21,2011