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Exercise

iPosture: The Evolution of Your Posture in the Digital Age

By Renee North  

Life has changed and now most of the world is a part of, or slave to, digital technology. Our collective posture has been folded and molded by the Internet, while we text, tap and swipe on iPhones, iPads, tablets, phablets, laptops, and desktops.

Hours spent hunched over, searching, answering, staring at a screen has created new conditions like text-neck, computer-slump and texting-thumb, while also reigniting old favorites like carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS), forward head posture (FHP) and introduced a far younger generation to old faithful, low back pain (LBP).

Tech is taking us in the direction ofstaying seated, folded forward in a perpetual hunch sometimes referred to as “iPosture”. Communicating, working, and playing online does have real, lifelong consequences as your body adapts to this folded posture.

Being aware of how digital habits affect you is key to maintaining optimal health.

According to Dr. Steven Weiniger, posture expert and author of Stand Taller Live Longer, “Studies show poor posture is a major cause of back and neck pain for all ages, and over time contributes to digestive and cardiopulmonary problems. Another great motivator? People with strong posture live longer, healthier and more active lives.”

It’s time to take a look at how hours of sitting is affecting your posture.

Do-It-Yourself Posture Check

The first step to improving posture is having a posture assessment.  Dr. Weiniger provides this advice to evaluate your own posture at home:

1  Ask a friend to take three pictures of you: from the front, back, and side.  Stand straight and tall with what feels like good posture (Don’t look in a mirror. That’s cheating!).

2  Print out the pictures, one per page.

3  Put a dot between your feet on the front and back view, and a dot on your ankle on the side view.

4  Fold each paper in half vertically at the dot.

Review Your Results

•    Front & Back View: Your body should look the same on each side of the fold. If your head or torso is off to one side, or one arm rests further from your body, or one hand hangs a bit lower than the other, your posture is not symmetrical.

•    Side View: The fold beginning at your ankle should pass through your shoulder and ear. If your head juts forward of the fold, you may have a posture distortion called Forward Head Posture (FHP). Your head should appear evenly placed over your shoulders, upper body, pelvis and feet, If you appear to be leaning, or your shoulders roll forward, it’s time to strengthen your posture.

Improving Posture with Exercise   

Exercising with poor posture can worsen and weaken posture, so it’s important to work on your foundation first. Yoga, Pilates and StrongPosture exercise are all great for building body awareness and control and help you to train good habits when participating in other fitness activities.

Before the gym, the golf course or taking a walk, Dr. Weiniger recommends these posture strengthening exercises:

•    One Leg Balance– Start building good posture by balancing on one foot. First, stand tall with your best posture, and then keep straight with your head floating towards the ceiling and shoulders relaxed as you lift your thigh until your knee is at hip height. Hold the position for 30 seconds on each side. If your balance or posture waivers, put your foot down, and begin again.

•    Wall Stand – Back up to a wall. Your heels, bottom, shoulders and head should lightly touch the wall. Keep your head level and look straight ahead. Take three slow breaths. Note areas of stress or weakness. Ywant to focus on these in your next Yoga or StrongPosture class.

Healthy Selfie

We recognize the irony in suggesting an app to evaluate ‘iPosture‘ – but, here it is. Download a free posture analysis app (we like PostureZoneon iTunes). Having a screening tool readily available on your mobile device makes a do-it-yourself posture check possible anywhere.

A posture app lets you snap a picture to set a benchmark for posture and keep track of your improvements or decline.

Renée North is a Certified Posture Exercise Professional, personal trainer and Pilates instructor who has trained thousands of clinicians to keep people moving well with posture exercise protocols. She is co-author of Posture Picturesand a senior editor for BodyZone.com, an online health resource that offers a directory of posture specialists. Contact Renée North at www.BodyZone.com.  See LinkedIn Bio.

Contributor: Dr. Steven Weiniger is the internationally renowned Posture Expert. He speaks on improving posture for longevity, health, pain relief and aging well, and trains physicians and therapists in StrongPosture® protocols. He authored Stand Taller Live Longer, An Anti-Aging Strategy, Contact Dr. Weiniger at PosturePractice.com . Read Full Bio – Dr. Weiniger.