“Attend carefully to your posture. Quit drooping and hunching around…Walk tall and gaze forthrightly ahead. Dare to be dangerous. Encourage the serotonin to flow plentifully through the neural pathways desperate for its calming influence. People including yourself, will start to assume that you are competent and able.”
~Jordan Peterson, The 12 Rules For Life
Back pain, low sex drive, looking weak and getting bullied
Dear Past (Pain-Full) Self,
“Stand up straight!”
I know you have heard it before because teachers and parents would always tell me to “stand up straight” ALL THE TIME. I would always ignore them because I never thought it was important. Boy was I wrong. But even though they were right telling me to stand upright wasn’t enough to affect me long term.
Slouching not only makes us look weak it also hurts us in the long run…
How? Our body adapts and molds to the positions we spend the most time in. Imagine that you bent a credit card and held it there for 7 days in a row 24 hours each day… It will most likely stay in that position, wouldn’t it? That’s what happens to your body when you slouch for long periods.
The main problem with slouching…
Isn’t that it looks bad. It’s that it obstructs your breathing pathway. When you slouch you are shrinking the room your lungs have to expand and take in oxygen. This decreases your respiratory rate causing rapid and shallow breathing. This is a stress response so your body starts going into “fight or flight mode”. This type of response is necessary in some short term instances. But over a prolonged period it will steal energy from you and cause a host of problems down the road. I’m sure I don’t need to detail how bad stress feels because we have all felt it at one point or another, unless you’re a one year old super genius reading right now.
The problem of bad posture is even worst for men…
For guys: the main problem with long term high stress levels is the fact that it will affect your sex drive. If your body thinks it’s dying it does not give a rat’s ass about procreation. It’s first priority is making sure you don’t die. So, say goodbye to erections and say hello to Viagra! The more shallow you breathe the less pleasurable sex is. Sex is the best when you can breathe deeply.
Majority of old people have bad posture AND they complain of low sex drive, coincidence?
Ever seen those old people with hunchbacks that look like they can barely walk or move? If you don’t want to be like that when you get older then I suggest you start doing something to fix your posture now! Not only is good posture important, it’s essential for a happy stress free life. Why? It’s all about the breath baby.
When you hunch over your lung capacity decreases.
This causes a shorter more shallow breath. A more shallow breath means you don’t bring in enough air during each inhalation which eventually leads to feeling stressed the F out because you’re not supplying your body with enough of the most important thing it needs: air.
Bad posture leads to shallow breathing which activates your stress response.
If you take a bunch of fast short breaths it activates your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight). So, not only will you look bad, you’ll also be in a constant state of fight or flight. Cortisol is not a fun hormone in my opinion. The opposite: A slower deep breath will lower that stress hormone cortisol because it stimulates the vagus nerve (which controls the relaxation response).
To avoid bad sex (and pain) it’s simple: FIX YOUR POSTURE!
How? Stretch the front of your body, strengthen the back of your body. It’s that simple. Ever noticed how you see people who spend hours a day on their phones with their necks down; then they drive for long periods of time, sit for hours, and when they need to do an assignment they type or write? What’s wrong with this picture?
What do you notice about these people’s posture? Sucks doesn’t it?!
You don’t want to be one of these people.Most of what we do in society is in the front of our bodies, which means that the muscles in front get overused and the muscles in back get over stretched. This is what we call an imbalance, which leads to bad/ugly/inefficient POSTURE.
So, to FIX OUR POSTURE, we must combat the effects of all this forward motion.
The formula is simple: Stretch the front + Strengthen the back = better posture
The main muscles that get tight when we sit, drive, type, text, etc are the chest muscles and the abdominals (there are many others but those are the main two). The thing we must focus on is relaxing the muscles that are pulling you forward (abs and chest) and make sure we get the muscles that are ALLOWING our chest and abs to pull us forward to get stronger (low back and upper back).
This post will focus on first stretching the tight muscles: the abs and chest.
The first stretch is called “The Bow”. It’s where you lay over something and reach your hands overhead stretching the front of your body. It’s the opposite of bending forward (in this version you are laying on something, but you can also do this without laying on something).
To really emphasize the stretch you can reach your hands to grab something. This way you will get the most out of it.
Use whatever you can lay over to get the effect. Get creative. Lay over any objects you can find for at least 2 minutes. The Bow is my go to stretch whenever I feel stiffness from typing or writing for long periods of time…Actually I’m about to do it now…one sec….
Ahhhhhh….much better….here’s what I did:
Key to remember with this stretch: straighten your arms out as much as possible. Try not to bend them because that can lead to a faulty shoulder position that can lead to pain down the road. Also, remind yourself to breathe into the parts you feel are most tight. And when you feel loose on one point you can lower or raise the object you’re laying on to hit other areas of your front (higher up is more chest and lower is more abs).
The next stretch to help your posture is the chest stretch. You can do this in any doorway (get creative). Here’s the stretch:
Keys to remember when doing the chest stretch: make sure your thumbs are pointing back, like in the photo, to force external rotation (internal rotation is where your shoulders round forward and that’s the opposite of what you want). Also, remember to just breathe in and out through your nose and RELAX, don’t force anything.
Once you’ve stretched the front the next step is to strengthen the back of our body
Specifically, low back and upper back specifically). In the next post I’ll give you the 2 specific exercises to do this. In the next post I’ll explain exactly which two stretches and two exercises to start off doing to fix your posture so you can look better, feel better, and conquer your pain to gain!
Your Future (Pain-Free) self