You have worked for forty plus years and are now entering into what is called retirement. What used to be a time of slowing down is not quite the same today. We want to stay active and vital for many more years. One thing that will affect that is our posture. Seldom do we think of improving our posture after retirement. But, maybe we should consider it.
What causes poor posture?
Have you ever stopped to consider your posture? Most people are not even aware if they have good posture or not. What is good posture for the normal human being? Let’s find out if you have good posture.
The easiest way to do that is to lie on the floor on your back. The back of the head should be on the floor. Shoulder blades should also be flat on the floor. Your legs should be relatively straight and your heels on the floor. Your toes are pointed upward. This is the ideal posture if you translate it to a standing position.
To do that, you can stand with your back against a wall. Depending on your body build this may be a little awkward. But you can try it. Most of us will find that our posture is not what we thought it was.
Unknowingly we practiced bad posture
We have spent many years doing things in our jobs without thinking how it affected our posture. Desk jobs tend to cause us to develop a slump in our middle or lower back. We are often not aware of this because it comes on very slowly over many years.
Other jobs, which are more physical, affect us in other ways. Heavy lifting jobs will cause compression and sometimes damage to our spines. Our spines are designed not to be straight, but curved. This allows them to absorb shock without sustaining damage.
The spine is flexible because it allows for nerves to flow through it to all parts of the body. If these vertebrae become compressed they may hinder the nerve connection to parts of your body.
One of the biggest reasons for poor posture is atrophy of the muscles that hold us erect. To atrophy means that the muscle grows weaker or smaller because of lack of use. Modern society does not tend to be as active as people were a couple of centuries ago. Modern conveniences have caused us to become “couch potatoes”. Because of this many of the muscles involved in posture have been neglected. You may ask, “What can I do to improve my posture?”
What can we do to improve our posture after retirement?
Let me address first what will not improve your posture. There are many devices on the market today that claim to improve your posture. If you are beyond being able to correct your posture by improving your own health, these are fine. But, they will not bring about a correction of the problems which brought about the poor posture. In fact, they will cause the muscles involved to atrophy more because of lack of use.
Check with your physician first. If it is determined that you have no physical malady, then exercise and strengthening your muscles is the better choice. Many studies have shown that people can build muscle strength even into their 90’s. Therefore, the healthy way should be the remedy of choice.
Improving posture for retirees. Where to start?
We begin with lying on our back. For too long we have been use to a poor posture so we think it is normal. We must retrain our mind to what is the correct position for good posture. Spend 10 or 15 minutes just lying on your back. Let your body relax. Begin to feel how the different parts of your body relate to one another. Of course, this is not exactly how it will feel standing, because of gravity. But, you can begin to feel their relative position to one another.
You should do this on the floor, not your bed. Too often the bed gives and allows our bad posture to remain. The floor is not so forgiving. It will make us align the way we should.
Exercises – how to improve your posture?
The answer is, “Of course it can!”
I am not going to recommend a regimine of physically stressful exercises. If a set of muscles has atrophied over many years we need to begin slowly to build it back.
So, we begin where we started, on our back on the floor.
First the arms
You may do this exercise one arm at a time or both arms at the same time. From flat on the floor raise your arm to a 90 degree position straight up. Then lower it back to parallel with the floor. Do this 10 times. Relax. Continuing with the arms. Now raise the arm 180 degrees until it is flat on the floor over your head. Then bring it back to the starting position by your side on flat on the floor. Do this 10 times. Relax.
Still, on your back, raise both arms to 90 degrees straight up. Lower your elbows at right angles to your body until they touch the floor. Keep your forearms pointing upward. Touch the floor with your elbow then return to the 90 degree position with your arms straight up. Do this 10 times.
At all times the back of your head remains touching the floor.
Now the core(for improving posture after retirement)
We are still lying on our back, arms to our side. This time we are going to raise one leg at a time. Keeping the leg straight, raise one leg 6 or 8 inches off the floor. Then lower it back to the floor. You can alternate legs in this exercise. Do this for 10 times. As you are able, continue by raising the leg to half-way to an upright position. Do this for 10 times. Then do the exercise to ¾ of the way to straight up, then to the 90 degree position. If you cannot do the complete exercise, do what you can. It may take time to develop the flexibility and strength needed to do them all.
While still on your back slide one foot toward your buttox until the sole of your foot is flat on the floor. Then slowly slide it back until your leg is straight. Do the other foot. Do this exercise 10 times. Relax.
Now, slide both feet toward your buttox until they are flat on the floor. Your knees should be up. Move your arms until they are flat on the floor at a 90 degree angle from your body. Now, slowly tilt your knees to the left. Keep your arms and shoulders flat on the floor. Tilt your knees until you feel a good stretch in the sides of your stomach area. Hold for 3 or 4 seconds then return to upright. Now tilt the other way doing the same procedure. Do this ten times. Then lie flat on the floor and relax.
Lying flat on your back, slide your feet toward your buttox. Your feet should be flat on the floor and 10 to 16 inches from your buttox. Your arms are by your side and your hands are flat on the floor. As you are able, raise your hips up off the floor. Push with your feet. Keep your shoulders on the floor. You should try to arch your back and hips. Raise the arch as high as you can, without causing pain. Hold the arch for 3 or 4 seconds then slowly return your back and hips to the floor. Do this for 10 times.
Upper back and head(improving posture after retirement)
To address the hump that many of us tend toward, we turn over on our stomach. You may stretch your arms straight above your head and flat on the floor. In this prone position raise your head and look straight ahead. Hold that pose for 5 seconds. Then relax. Do this exercise ten times.
These are simple exercises that can be done every day. Depending on the person it may take 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Doing this regularly will begin to tone the muscles and activate them in your daily routine.
As you begin to correct your posture you will begin to see improvements in many areas. Because you bring support to the spine you will get better nerve flow to all parts of your body. Better nerve flow means better function of all parts of your body.
Better posture means stronger muscles and muscles that are doing what they are designed to do. Because you are employing more muscles you will have more energy and strength.
More to come
The exercises we have shared are beginning exercises. We shall add to these as we continue. Improving posture after retirement is not impossible. But we must be deliberate and consistent. The exercises to improve posture that we share will be simple and will not need special equipment.
From time to time we shall share information on other approaches and equipment which may be of aid to you.
As in any physically active program you begin, please check with your physician. Our goal is to get healthier.
Want to learn more ways to help improve posture? Read HERE!
There are more things to learn about improving posture after retirement. Check these out.