Ask Stephie: How's your posture? Why you should care

Have you ever paid attention to your own posture or the posture of others? You would be surprised at what you would find. Forward-leaning heads, rounded shoulders, rounded upper backs, feet pointed outward instead of straight ahead, and the list goes on.

Posture can be affected by genetics as well as environment. As we age, we tend to become less active and, since our body is designed for motion, it actually thrives on it. Sitting in front of computers, driving cars, and watching television for hours upon hours each week can negatively affect our body’s position, alignment and overall function.

So, what does all this mean to you? Poor posture leads to misalignments in your body. These misalignments can affect the entire skeleton and lead to muscular imbalances and abnormal wear and tear, which usually results in joint degeneration and pain. In addition, faulty head position can be the underlying cause of chronic headaches!

If you are in pain, chances are you already have postural dysfunction. But the good news is, your posture can be changed! Our bodies are resilient, and when given proper movement or “design motion,” the alignment and function can be restored.

What if you’re not in pain? Improving one’s posture can increase energy levels and prevent the onset of pain by keeping the body properly aligned and moving efficiently. Bones do what muscles tell them to do, and when our muscles are functioning properly, the body will move correctly and virtually pain-free.

Here is a little self-test you can do to see how your own posture checks out. Stand in front of a mirror and pick your feet up a couple of times until you feel settled in a comfortable stance. Relax your stomach and close your eyes. First, check to see if your body weight is distributed evenly on your left and right foot and your heels and toes. Do you feel more weight on one foot? Next, open your eyes and look at your feet. Are they pointed straight ahead? It’s likely they are pointed outward like a duck’s. Finally, look at yourself from the side. Are your shoulders rounded, and is your head leaning forward? Our bodies have eight load-bearing joints: the shoulders, hips, knees and ankles. All are meant to be in vertical and horizontal alignment, and when they aren’t, dysfunction sets in.

If you are interested in improving your posture, I recommend finding a qualified fitness professional or health practitioner who is trained in posture alignment techniques. There are alignment therapies available that use individually designed stretches, positions, and exercises without any type of manipulation.

Keep in mind, the goal is to correctly align the eight load bearing joints of your body. Once you do, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much better you feel. Now get excited and get aligned!

Stephie Steele is owner of Symmetry Fitness, LLC. She has been featured in IDEA Health & Fitness Source magazine and specializes in weight loss, sports performance, total body fitness, posture alignment therapy, strength training, core conditioning, cardiovascular and flexibility training. Readers can send their questions to Stephie via e-mail to

From the Sept. 6-12, 2006, issue

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