The first two types of PS Based exercises are Posture and Stretching. Long life requires verticality, a good upright posture, and flexibility. Proper alignment of the body and avoidance of slouching, shrinking, drooping and stiffness are critical to staying fit after sixty. Our mothers were right. We should sit up straight, shoulders back, but relaxed. We should walk upright, not hunched over or looking down at a device in hand. Natural body alignment is important for your energy flow and overall health.
I used to have mediocre posture, a slight slouch forward with neck bend and excess curve in lower back. This was caused by decades of ignoring the common sense advice. Like most people, I was forced to sit still from the time of school, usually slouched at my desk. As an adult I was soon working at the first computers as a tech-lawyer. My neck was slightly bent down with neck out of position from decades of looking at a keyboard and screens, not to mention reading large legal books. My vocation made my posture worse and stressed out all of my systems. Relaxing at home did not help. I’d lounge around watching television on comfy chairs and sofas or playing video games. I would usually collapse and melt into the furniture. Posture was far from my mind. Not anymore!
Improving posture has been a difficult, but rewarding task. After about three years, I still have a ways to go, but already feel and look better. The positive results are encouraging. You start to look like an athlete and notice that in others. But its far more than appearance. It helps you to feel great and keep up your energy levels. I recently discovered the work of Yiannis Christoulas, a sports scientist and personal trainer in Greece. I wish I had discovered him years ago. If you have the same type of postural problems that I had, a reformed sedentary office worker, you will benefit from his excellent video, How to FIX Forward Head Posture – Proven by Science (22 studies) + Myth Busting!
Christoulas’ video includes simple posture exercises that are easy to try out. His analysis is summarized in the pyramid graphic right. His recommended a three-step process to correct your posture. That seems correct to us. We suggest you subscribe to Yiannis’ YouTube Channel where you will also find science on stretching and flexibility.
I can also recommend a book by Pilates experts Lora Pavilack and Nikki Alstedter, Pain-Free Posture Handbook: 40 Dynamic Easy Exercises to Look and Feel Your Best (2016). It is available on Amazon and also at their website, PainFreePostureHandbook.com. I do many of the exercises they recommend. The book includes many simple exercises with clear descriptions and diagrams. Here is one example they offer without copyright.
Joe Robaina, our Defense expert, also has a Masters degree in Sports Science like Christoulas, but Joe further has an advanced Naturopathy degree. Joe is a strong proponent of proper body alignment. Here I ask Joe a question on posture and flexibility and he explains it is part of any new client evaluation and training. Body alignment, posture, impacts everything he explains. The two things you need to do are “strengthen and lengthen.” Joe uses a special five foot staff for stretches everyday. So do I, but I spend more time on it because I am still in the “lengthen” mode, still trying to get all the tight muscles, tendons and fascia fully stretched out. Using the long staff is a fun way to do that, and to keep flexible once you are there, like Joe. We plan to offer videos and instruction on this in the future.
Yiannis Christoulas also has an excellent sports science video on stretching, shown next below. It provides a good overview of various types of stretching. Christoulas recommends a few types shown to be effective in numerous studies. One is called the Anderson Method. It is a two-step type of static stretch. This is the method I have always used, but did not know that is what it was called. I later learned that I got it from a stretching book long ago. The book, it turns out, was written by a runner and biker named Bob Anderson, and was called simply Stretching. Scientists have since named the method described in the book after him.
Bob Anderson wrote the book Stretching and illustrations were by his wife, Jean Anderson. This has become one of the all time biggest selling exercise books. The latest edition, which we highly recommend is Stretching: 40th Anniversary Edition (2020). The first edition was in 1980. This book is considered the “Bible” of flexibility. This new edition includes 150 stretches. It was updated to include the latest information, including problems and corrections related to smart phone use and tips on posture. This updated version of a classic should be in everyone’s library.
The Anderson static type of stretching is especially well suited for seniors. I also like the method types that Christoulas in his video below calls “PNF” stretching for “Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation.” Here another person, or tool, such as a belt or band, is used to pull the stretch tighter and hold. This is commonly used in Pilates. Ballistic types of stretch have been discredited and Active Movement stretching does not work as well as static. But PNF methods, only slightly different than static, have also done well in scientific testing.
My only concern about the analysis of the young, very athletic Mr. Christoulas, is the amount of time he recommends be devoted to stretching. In my experience and from what I have read elsewhere, seniors, especially ones who have not yet attained good, much less full flexibility, need to devote more time to stretching than he recommends. Otherwise, I find Christoulas to be spot on. I recommend you read his blog, where you will find a transcript of this video at this post, How To Get Flexible: the Complete Science Proven Guide.
Alignment and stretches everyday are needed to regain youthful vitality and flexibility. I find it is a good way to start the day and tune into your body. It can also be a good way to finish. A light stretch before sleeping helps many people, myself included, in getting to sleep quickly and staying there for eight hours. Sleeping is the foundation of all good health.
You can learn more about flexibility and stretching exercises using the simple exercises recommended by Yiannis Christoulas and others. Hundreds of good flexibility exercises are used in classes and groups of all kinds, including Yoga, Pilates and Aerobics. There are thousands of books and videos on the subject. As to the books on stretching, we like and recommend: Stretching: 40th Anniversary Edition (2020); Stretching To Stay Young by Jessica Matthews; Embodied Posture by Stacy Dockins; The Key Poses of Yoga by Dr. Ray Long; and the amazing, large book, 1,500 Stretches: the Complete Guide to Flexibility and Movement by Hollis Liebman.
Much more on the stretch and flexibility topics from other experts is forthcoming.
From the blog
For reasons currently beyond my knowledge the videos below do not function or display. They do run fine at the Overview – Home Page, Defense and All Blogs. Bottom of the pages. They are all interesting YouTube videos. Suggest you check them out.