A journal of the day: posture


by cheri

Annie Oakley, whom I intend to paint, could hold and shoot a shotgun while riding a horse. I can barely hold my 20 gauge shotgun for 2 minutes without feeling pressure on my back. Even in her older days, she manipulated heavy guns as if they were toothpicks. In studying Ms. Oakley over the last month, one factor (other than her sheer guts and bravado) has become clear: she had erect posture all of her life.

I’ve noticed that most back problems begin with poor posture.  I know mine did.

For a number of years while cheer leading in high school and later instructing cheer leaders on the west coast in my early twenties, I stood for long periods of time on the sidelines of football fields and basketball courts around the SF Bay Area and then on expansive cement staging areas at college campuses.

My posture was poor. I parked my upper body back on my hips and hyper-extended my knees,  thus creating a little cradle to rest my back. Surprisingly, no one ever mentioned this to me.

Because I have never abused my joints with over-exercise or weight gain, they have generally functioned well throughout the years but my bad posture caught up to me several years ago when my back began aching along with one leg.

Despite consultations with all of the usual folks (docs, PT’s, more docs) it wasn’t until a physical therapist called me out saying, ” Cheri, you are slumping! Oh my. ”

The word “slumping” has horrible connotations and my English-teacher sensibilities startled that such a  word that creates images of decay and resignation would be applied to my posture.

No one had ever observed that I was slumping.

Changing one’s posture is difficult but I have done it. Each morning for the last two years, I remind myself to suck in my gut, elongate my spine, hold my shoulders back and be mindful of my posture.

My pains have lessened.

More importantly, I am able to power walk up a one-mile hill, strengthening the glutes, hamstrings, and quad muscles.

As a bonus, I’ve noticed that those horizontal lines that hold up fat and  occur between the breasts and the hips go away if you are standing up straight. Really.


About Cheri

Writer, photograph, artist, mother, grandmother and wife.
This entry was posted in Aging, fitness, Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

13 Responses to A journal of the day: posture

  1. Richard says:

    Never have I had a dog but Glenys was brought up with them. She speaks of her dogs as being important to her for loyalty and the lifting of spirits. Now she has another sort of dog to pet.: probably a poor substitute. I do know, however, that simplicity and routine are aids to freedom.

    In the sweetness of friendship let there be laughter and the sharing of pleasures. For in the dew of little things the soul finds its morning and is refreshed.
    Khalib Gibran

    • Cheri says:

      You are correct about simplicity and routine as portholes to freedom. Thoreau was right when he echoed: Simplicity! Simplicity! Simplicity!

      • Richard says:

        I have been mulling over your expression “Portholes to freedom.” It generates a cascade of ideas, from the original purpose of a porthole to its modern manifestations and now your metaphor.

        Routine and discipline are essential in the limited space aboard a ship In order to return home safely and release passengers and crew to freedom.

        Ashore, routines leave us free, within the limits of our circumstances, go where we like, do as we choose, to think and to imagine.

        And what of the ultimate porthole!

  2. Richard says:

    Just to complicate things, the above comment belongs to your previous post!

    On reading this post, however, I find myself sucking in my gutt, elongating my spine and putting my shoulders back. This I shall add to my morning routine, which seems a lot simpler than weight traiming. I can feel the dew on my brow already.

    • Cheri says:

      When visiting you and Glenys last month, I noticed that both of you have excellent posture. That lovely picture of you and Glenys taken at the restaurant really shows your stature. By the way, you looked smashing in your suit and tie.

      • Richard says:

        The photo is a lovely reminder of your visit.

        Glenys wasn’t allowed to have a pillow in her bad when she was a child. Nor was her brother. The result is that they never stoop.

        I, on the other hand, had multiple supports for my head when I slept, so the camera caught me in a good moment.

  3. 4brig says:

    I’ve been good about my posture, either setting or standing, and yoga has helped me maintain it. But it started with my parents and standup straight young lady!

  4. Lue Perrine says:

    I heard that balancing books on your
    head while walking can help
    train a good posture too! 😉
    I have never noticed any poor posture
    with you!
    You have always walked, stood
    and sat very gracefully! 😊
    Good ole’ Annie sure is wearing a lot
    of metals!
    🎖🧿 Probably won for her perfect target shooting! 👍

  5. shoreacres says:

    Once upon a time, I couldn’t walk for more than five minutes, and sometimes I only could relieve pain by bending over. It turned out to be a stress fracture in my L4/L5 vertebrae, and yon orthopedic surgeon said, “Probably genetic, exacerbated by repetetive, twisting motion. Do you recall such motion?” After I stopped laughing, I said, “How ’bout bending over at the waist to varnish the underside of boat handrails?”

    That stopped him, but just for a minute. He sent me to a sports therapist in town, who gave me exercises, which relieved the pain in about three days, and it hasn’t been back. If I get a twinge, I start the exercises again. The most important involves tucking my cute little behind “in” and clenching the muscles. The result, of course, is perfect posture.


    • Cheri says:

      So glad the exercises have ameliorated the back problem. I do those too. Yes. Strong glutes and especially hamstrings do a world of good for a weakened back.

      From you work, I imagine you are very strong. Me, not so much.

      Yesterday, to ready for the olive harvest on the 23rd (skipped last year because of the crop), I went out with the express plan of raking under all 58 trees. Twelve trees later, I came in. There’s always tomorrow.

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