Help me stand up straight.
November 3, 2006 4:13 PM   Subscribe

I have a tall-person slouch. What exercises and stretches will help me improve my posture?
posted by I Am Not a Lobster to Health & Fitness (10 answers total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
I found that I straightened up naturally upon taking up Shovelglove. But I bet anything that strengthens your back muscles will help.
posted by kindall at 4:30 PM on November 3, 2006

Taking some form of martial arts may help. At least in Aikido, there is a strong emphasis on the correct stance and posture, and my sensei frequently corrected my posture, to the point where, if I caught myself slouching outside of the dojo, I would flinch and straighten up.

Externally imposed and conscious good posture will ultimately become internalized and unconscious good posture.
posted by Wavelet at 4:46 PM on November 3, 2006

I had the tall person slouch. After swimming a few times a week for 6 months, I grew about half an inch. I think it actually straightened out my spine.
posted by teg at 5:34 PM on November 3, 2006

Outside of exercises, lately I've been thinking about Superman when I walk. Cape flowing in the wind, etc. (No actual cape. Just thinking.) It's worked pretty well. My massage-therapist wife was surprised at how well it works.
posted by mendel at 6:13 PM on November 3, 2006 [1 favorite]

Best answer: yoga, martial arts, pilates, balance ball exercises, visualisation and basically anything (yes, also swimming) that will help you strengthen and lengthen your 'core' muscles and open up your shoulders from their quite-possibly-'stuck' forward stoop.

the slouch is not limited to tall people, although I know a fair number of taller individuals who have it. it's also rampant amongst the various species of cubicle monkey.

I assume by 'tall-person slouch' you're describing a rolled-shoulders, collapsed chest, forward lean?

I am a cycling coach, and this is a problem inherent to high-mileage road racers as well, owing to various muscular imbalances caused by the static position on a roadbike.

if this is so, then what I recommend is one of a combination of several things:

1) stretching: get a 'foam roller' and stretch your back with it. I'd seriously recommend starting with this stretch (yes that website's a piece of crap but the info is golden)

2) strengthening: borrow or purchase a yoga ball and practise a few of these core strengthening exercises

3) visualisation: practise thinking of being a marionette whose 'strings' are pulling the top of your head and your spine straight. concentrate on this visualisation; maybe even practise meditating in some form of straight-backed pose. use some psychology, stand proud, tell yourself you're *all that and a bag o' chips*, maybe even imagine you're a runway model on the catwalk?

4) balancing drills: walk around with stuff balanced on your head. seriously. this works. also try balancing on a wobble board (these are really easy to build a homebrew version of btw) or alternatively, do balance drills on a yoga ball by practising sitting (without support or with your feet on a soccer ball), crouching on all fours, kneeling (straight spine) and eventually even standing (it's do-able, if i can manage it, anyone can) on the yoga ball.

doing any one, any combination, or all of these things will absolutely help improve your posture.

TIP: if uncorrected, shoulder slouch or 'stuck shoulder syndrome' can manifest in many different aches and pains: low back pain, hand numbness, neck pain and even carpal tunnel syndrome. the pain of carpal tunnel and the associated numbness and tingling is merely a symptom of tight muscles under the shoulder blades, in the neck and trapezius 'impinging' on the nerve bundle branch that runs down the arm, over the elbow (funny bone) and into the 'carpal tunnel'. I had wicked carpal tunnel for years (i'm a secretary by trade) and was contemplating surgery, until I happened upon a massage therapist who taught me the proper stretching and strengthening regimen to 'release' my stuck shoulders and ease the nerve inflammation.

good luck.
posted by lonefrontranger at 6:59 PM on November 3, 2006 [23 favorites]

My doctor made me do this exercise where I stood against a wall with both shoulders touching the wall for five minutes, then alternate toe touches (touch your left hand to your right toe and right hand to left), then head rolls (slowly, all the way around one way, then all the way around the other) then repeat 3 or 4 times. I was supposed to do them every night. It was for scoliosis, but I bet it would help here.
posted by nadawi at 7:06 PM on November 3, 2006 [2 favorites]

I got this helpful article from another AskMe that's now lost in the mists of time. It may help.

Also, have someone show you where your lats are, and try to strengthen them. (Roughly, they are the muscles on the outsides of your mid-back, just below your shoulder blades. I like to think of it as, if we had wings, these would be the wing muscles.) Trying to keep my lats "engaged" is my way of automatically restoring proper posture.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:06 PM on November 3, 2006 [3 favorites]

First of all do not think that you must bend over to talk to shorter people. They can see your face fine no matter how tall you are.

If you really want close face to face interaction just pick them up and prop them on block.

Some people can figure out how to make standing-up sex work despite height differentials.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:25 PM on November 3, 2006

LobsterMitten that article is pure gold, thanks for the link. I'm going to have to use that one for my cycling clients!
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:42 PM on November 3, 2006

Go to see an Alexander Technique practitioner and practice the exercises they teach you. It worked absolute wonders for my previously appalling) posture.
posted by greycap at 11:23 PM on November 3, 2006

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