How big is your purse? It seems that the fashion is to carry bigger and bigger purses. And I am guilty of following this fashion. Recently when buying a new purse for fall I had to make sure that I could fit in a water bottle (which I must have with me at all times), a reusable bag for groceries (so I can protect the environment), my energy bar for a healthy snack (so I am not lured in to any fast food restaurants) etc. etc.—and that doesn’t even include the necessities like my wallet and huge key chain. Are you laughing? Can you relate?
So why am I talking about purses? Because, I am really talking about posture, strength, and avoiding injury and bad habits that will progress if we are not careful. Whether you are carrying a big purse, a small child, a suitcase, or groceries, remember the following:
- Posture is always of utmost importance. When your load feels heavy, activate your core, contracting the abdominals, exhale and stand taller to support that load. Make this a part of your fitness regimen—to always have your abs engaged when standing and walking with something heavy in your hands or slung over your shoulder.
- Protect your spine—often (as with carrying purses) the load is uneven and the tendency is to lean or slump into the weight of the load, creating pressure on your spine and a habit of adjusting by letting one hip drop to the side. This can create a bad posture habit that may lead to pain in the future. Fight back by aligning your spine whenever you are carrying a heavy load. Not only should you contract those abs and stand tall, you should line up your spine and stand straight.
- Strengthen your upper body. Work the muscles of the shoulders, back and neck. Be sure that strength training is a part of your fitness plan, and recognize the value of being strong for projects that require you to lift heavy objects and for everyday life, like grocery shopping or carrying your very cute (large) purse!
And don’t neglect your sitting posture, after you have put down your purse—stop right now, don’t move, and note how you are sitting. Are your abdominals relaxed or contracted to hold you in an upright seated position? Are your shoulders back and down or are they slumping forward? Is your head retracted or dropping forward? Do a “posture check.” Inhale and sit tall, then exhale draw the shoulders back and relax the shoulder blades down and back. Look straight forward and adjust your head, retracting it backward, so it feels like it is ‘over’ your shoulders. Breathe slowly and deeply a few times. Experience sitting in good posture—then practice this all the time! When you catch yourself in poor seated posture, do the posture check again…and again…and again. You will be glad you did!
Therefore my dear brothers, (and sisters) stand firm. Let nothing move you. I Cor 15:58a
Standing firm and tall with you!
President, Body & Soul Fitness