A Lady’s Guide to Posture

WHERE MY TALL LADIES AT?!

Tall girl problems, am I right? Pant cuffs stop mid-calf when you sat down. Short people are constantly asking you to get things down from shelves for them like a bunch of helpless babes. You are constantly bumping your head on door lintels designed with toddlers in mind. And worst of all, you tower over your date when you put on a pair of cute heels.

tom-cruise-katie-holmes

At 5’6″, I’m hardly the tallest person in a crowd, normally. But let me tell you, as an adolescent I was comparatively a brobdingnagian freak. I hit my growth spurt, as most girls do, at around the age of twelve, and I grew to my current height almost overnight. One day I was a normal pubescent girl, and the next minute I was trampling Japanese villagers underfoot. I also was unable to gain any weight, so rather than merely increasing proportionately in size, my existing molecules were stretched out like silly putty so that I moved about rather like a giraffe on stilts.

I compensated by attempting to shrink into the ground on a daily basis. I would jut one hip out in order to accordion my spine down to a reasonable length, one knee bent and my hips settling onto the weight of that shortened leg. I kept my shoulders rounded and my head slightly forward at all times in order to take a couple of precious inches off my height and allow me to look my peers in the eyes.

Self-portrait, age 12.

Self-portrait, age 12.

If this sounds like a horrible idea to you, you’re absolutely right. It was terrible for me, and my spine won’t ever really be the same due to years of slouching. I see other girls and even grown women doing it all the time. Tallness, apparently, is only acceptable for people who want to be high fashion models. Everyone else is better off being 5’5″ or less, purely for romantic purposes. The shorter you are, the more guys are within your acceptable dating range, because everyone knows it is ludicrous to date a guy shorter than you!

Ridiculous and outdated gender binaries aside, we all need to quit this slouching nonsense. Why? Because it’s awful for your health! Poor posture doesn’t just look weird – it can have a number of effects on your health. It puts awkward stress on your vertebrae, which can lead to eroded or slipped disks. It crunches up your lungs so you can’t breathe properly. And the warping of your upper thoracic spine can lead to serious stress injuries and even permanent damage.

Side effects may include Disney eyes and an affinity for bell-ringing.

Side effects may include Disney eyes and an affinity for bell-ringing.

I know it can sometimes be annoying to be taller than everyone, but owning your tallness now will save you a lot of heartache down the line. Tis better to be tall and healthy than to be short and in constant pain, no? You can start by doing a daily check-in with yourself – am I standing correctly? Are my hips positioned directly over my feet, shoulders over my hips, head over my shoulders? This is referred to as “correct alignment,” and it’s a good thing to remind yourself of periodically.

If you’re sitting in a chair, there’s no need to arch your back. Simply sit comfortably, maintaining correct alignment – tuck your butt under so that your lower spine is supported, and position your shoulders directly above your pelvis, head above your shoulders.

If you’re a yoga-doing type person, there are some handy yoga poses you can incorporate into your practice if you want to work on your posture. If you are more of a weight-lifting person, just make sure you are using correct form in all your lifts. Having a partner watch you can be useful in this respect. Deadlifting can be an especially challenging and worthwhile exercise to improve posture, since it strengthens the lower back considerably.

deadlifting

It takes precisely zero extra seconds out of your day to sit up straight and make awesome posture look fierce, so there’s no reason not to try it out!

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