Stand up Straight!

It happens a few times each week. I walk through the house looking for my wife and find her hanging upside down on her “stretcher” or Teeter Hang Ups. She swears by it. For me it’s reminiscent of a scene out of a Batman movie. As Michael Keaton is quoted as saying about bats, “They’re great survivors”. Nevertheless, my wife raves at the positive effects of stretching and the result of aligning her back – thereby allowing her to stand up straight.

We can avoid debilitating problems from poor posture by working now on core strength, balance and flexibility. The right exercises and physical training are good places to start.

Anyone who has been in a nursing home or assisted-living facility will have noticed older adults so stooped over that their heads are looking down rather than straight ahead. Although common, such conditions are not inevitable with aging. By working on our core muscles when we are younger, we can help prevent bad posture and everything that goes along with it: weak muscles, poor balance, limited flexibility and increased susceptibility to falls. On the other hand, good posture means your whole body is properly aligned and working.

“When your head is pulled forward, your torso is rolling forward and your chest caves in,” says Steven P. Weiniger, author of Stand Taller, Live Longer: An Anti-Aging Strategy. “You can’t take a deep breath. Studies have shown that people with weak posture are more likely to have incidents of cardiovascular and pulmonary issues” (quoted in the Huffington Post).

Proper posture is more than standing up straight. It keeps you healthy and strong in various ways by:

  • decreasing the wearing of joint surfaces that could result in degenerative arthritis and joint pain;
  • reducing muscle strain and fatigue in your neck, shoulders and lower back because bones and joints are better aligned and muscles therefore work more efficiently;
  • reducing the stress on the ligaments holding the spinal joints together, minimizing the likelihood of injury;
  • increasing your core strength by engaging core abdominal and back muscles, which contributes to good balance and physical agility;
  • decreasing risk of bone deformity because bones are constantly forming new cells and over time respond to chronic pressure to change shape;
  • and improving your energy and mood.

Several studies, notably by Dutch behavioral scientist Erik Peper, have linked sitting or standing up straight to being better able to remember positive memories and having more confidence.

Exercises that improve posture include cardio, strength and flexibility training. Classes such as Pilates or yoga help to strengthen and improve flexibility in the core muscles that support posture. Changes won’t happen quickly, because poor posture likely took a long time to create and will take some time to improve. Therefore, awareness of your posture should be an ongoing, daily practice.

For more information on senior or homebound care, visit or call (765) 361-0600. Home by Choice has offices in Crawfordsville, Frankfort and Lafayette and is now serving Greencastle, Lebanon, Rockville, Zionsville and Covington.