This is a comment a patient posted in the stretching blog last month. I had to share her inspiring words: I’m 8 months post gastric sleeve and have lost 172 lbs since July 2013! Been in PT since October 15, 2014 twice a week. I had to start in the pool i was so bad, but ive graduated to all office visits and I’m getting stronger by the day! I became disabled due to disk disease and got to the point we’re I sat in a recliner for 8 year because my pain became intolerable. I started PT so I could start to walk again and they found so many more problems, my knees are bent from sitting for so long so they need to be manipulated every visit, extremely painful. What I’m getting too is, stretching is crucial to my recovery program. All my muscles had become so bad from sitting that stretching them is an everyday thing for me. When my sciatic starts bothering me I have a stretch where I sit with my foot on the opposite knee stretching my lower back muscle and I’ll tell you it actually works. I have gained enough strength that I can now walk through Walmart when I was only able to use the cart for years!!! I can shower standing up, cook, clean, and none of it would have been possible without PT and the stretching and exercise I do there! I just wanted to share with you my experience and how important stretching is to my everyday recovery.
Thanks to those of you who send along some help with my car dilemma I appreciate your advice 🙂
The big point in the last blog was that how we hold our body changes our body on a cellular level – for better or worse. And the amount of time we spend in a position has a direct impact on how much it will improve or deteriorate how our body feels.
How we sit and stand affects everything from our joints, muscles, digestion, breathing, focus, and probably a lot more.
What did you notice last week about how you sit and stand?
Here are some very basic and simple points to pay attention to. As always these are general suggestions and guidelines and I trust you to do what feels best for your body:
- Standing as best you can, keep your feet parallel to each other (notice if your default position is with toes pointing in or out)
- feet under hips (not wide apart and not too close)
- weight in heels – this is a BIG one. (the goal is the picture on the right in red. The picture on the left in blue shows the effect of weight in the toes)when your weight is more on the front of the feet – notice what happens to the hips. They push forward. This puts extra pressure on the front of the feet, the knees, the front of the belly and the lower back. The shoulders and head tend to move out of alignment too. Practice keeping your weight in your heels and hips when standing.
- lower back in neutral – not flat and not rounded. There should be a comfortable curve in the lower back and the hips should be in neutral
- ribs facing hips – this is another big one. Place your hand on your breastbone (sternum) – it should be close to vertical to the ground. When we “stand up straight” the ribs tend to flare forward. This causes strain in the back and takes the shoulders out of healthy alignment.
- roll the shoulders open – the inside of the elbow facing forward and shoulders and chest rolled open – Check the ribs again to be sure they did not flare forward again. Remember….ribs down, shoulders back
- head balanced on shoulders – ears over shoulders
Do the same when sitting just keeping feet on floor under knees. Then balance your weight on your hips so the lower back is in neutral and move up from there with the description above. Sitting with the back curved, like when slouching or sitting back on a couch creates more work for the lower back.
This is a simply way we can improve health in moments during our day. When muscles and joints are hurting they are just letting you know they are over worked. Much of the time this is from positioning during the day.
When pain is reduced from proper alignment, motivation to move increases. With the body aligned properly, risk of injury with exercise is less. So… all of this alignment awareness can lead to more movement and help with weight loss.
Think beyond the gym for health and well-being and healthy weight.
Keep Moving, Be Well