Monthly Archives: July 2014

17 What Do You Actually Have Control Over?

A student of mine recently asked me, “What do we actually have control over?”

As I get older I realize just how many things in life I don’t have control over—the weather, other people, the stock market, my long awaited flight that is now delayed 6 hours—and it seems with each passing year I come to terms with more and more things that I don’t have control over.

However, what I (and you) do have control over, and more control than you often realize, is our reactions.

If you are willing to accept this fact and the responsibility that comes along with it you can make a lot of changes in your life—in many areas.

Hey, wait a minute! This is a blog about posture. How does taking control of my reactions have anything to do with my posture?

A lot.

When I look at a student’s posture I see the effect of her reactions to her life over time.

Let me explain.

Let’s take a problem that is becoming almost epidemic in Western society—Forward Head Posture. This is when the head is habitually forward of the body. This is not necessarily an affliction of old age. We are seeing it in younger and younger people. And it is to a great extent preventable. Check out this recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Forward Head Posture is sometimes called Text Neck because as texting becomes more prevalent we are seeing an increase in this condition.

But calling it Text Neck (or we could also call it Tablet Neck) implies that the activity of texting (or the use of a tablet computer) is causing the problem. I like to use the term Forward Head Posture because it keeps the responsibility with you.

Do you know what you do with your head and neck when you text or use your tablet? If you don’t use either, do you know what you do with your head and neck when you sit in front of your desktop computer? (some of us still have and use those…including yours truly…)

Typical but unfortunate smartphone posture--notice how the man's head is dropped forward of the body from the base of the neck.

Typical but unfortunate smartphone posture–notice how the man’s head is dropped forward of the body from the base of the neck.

All of the above devices are neutral. They don’t cause you to push or drop your head forward. It is your reaction to those devices. And you do have control over your reaction. But awareness must come first.

With awareness comes choice.

Some of my students with Forward Head Posture have been given exercises to correct this such as tucking their chin in and pulling their head back and holding it for 10 seconds—repeat 5 times. Supposedly to strengthen the muscles that are meant to hold their head up. In my opinion these exercises are futile if at the same time you continue to react to things in life by pushing or dropping your head forward when you text, use your tablet or desktop computer.

Invest your time in observing your reactions.

With awareness comes choice.

If you haven’t read Post 5 Itty BITY I would encourage you to do so now. BITY is a practical principle to help you work on your reactions as they relate to Forward Head Posture.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

16 Touch Points, Balance and Posture

Balance is another reason to pay attention to your Touch Points.

Balance and posture are very interrelated.

Poor posture does nothing to help your balance. If you are consistently not balanced you will be holding yourself up with excessive muscular tension, which contributes to poor posture.

How we balance ourselves is very complex but you don’t have to understand it all. What I bring up here is the importance of Touch Points to balance.

Try this experiment:

Part One

  • Stand on two feet with your eyes open.
  • Stand on one foot and close your eyes. Notice how long you can balance easily on one foot before you lose your balance, start to fall over and eventually have to put your other foot down.
  • Do it a couple of times. Notice how your body feels different when it is balancing vs. when it is struggling not to fall over.

Part Two

  • Stand on two feet about 6—12 inches from a solid surface—a wall or a (securely!) closed door.
  • Touch one finger lightly on the wall (or door) in front of you. Stand on one foot and close your eyes.
  • Are you able to stay balanced longer on one foot with your finger on the wall than without?
  • Repeat with two fingers (one finger from each hand) on the wall.

Most people find they can balance longer on one foot when touching the wall lightly with their finger. This is because the finger provides an extra Touch Point. That gives your body information about where you are in space and helps you to maintain balance.

There is a difference between balancing and trying not to fall over. When you are balancing you are moving slightly as you adjust but it “feels easy”. When you are trying not to fall over you will start to tighten and hold in various part of your body. It doesn’t “feel easy”.

Why is this distinction between balancing and trying not to fall over important? Because if you are consistently trying not to fall over you will tighten and hold. Do this over and over again and it begins to feel normal. And that excess tension in not helpful for your posture.

I use Touch Points whenever I can. When I go up and down stairs I always have a finger tip on a handrail. I don’t lean into it or use it to pull myself up. Just a light touch to help me stay balanced and therefore easy in my body. No handrail? I drag my fingertip lightly on the wall (sorry mom!)

When I hike on uneven surfaces I use two lightweight walking poles for just the same reason. I rarely need to lean into them but having four “feet” on the ground instead of two helps me maintain my balance.

I touch whatever I can whenever I can! My balance (and my posture) is much better for it.