I just listened to a podcast interview with an Alexander Technique Teacher who related a story about her student who had purchased brand-new glasses. The student had paid several hundred dollars for them. They were the style of the moment with very small lenses.
And in order to look through the “sweet spot” and see clearly, the student had to put his head in an awkward position that created tension in his neck and pulled it off balance. The teacher had pointed this out to him.
I am not sure what the student did with that information. Hopefully, he considered the relationship between his head and spine to be worth more than the $300 glasses and got a different pair.
This story got me thinking about the myriad of ways that we contort ourselves, sacrificing our posture and our comfort 1) to accommodate some fashion trend or 2) because we don’t stop to ask ourselves if we can make some change in our immediate environment.
When I was in college in the late ’80s and early ’90s it was stylish to carry your books around either in a backpack or in a soft-sided book bag. Either way, you slung the bag over one shoulder.
Under no circumstances did you carry a backpack on both shoulders, like a backpack is designed to be worn.
And under no circumstances did you carry a bookbag with the strap across your body.
That is if you wanted to fit in and be cool. And at that age, fitting in was important. At least for me, it was.
At that time in my life, I was dealing with a serious chronic pain issue involving my neck, shoulders, and upper back. Because my shoulders were quite narrow, a bag on one shoulder would inevitably slide off. So I would lift my shoulder up slightly to prevent that from happening. My shoulder of choice was my left one. And after years of this, my left shoulder was higher than my right. And remember that part of my chronic pain issue involved my neck and shoulders!
Nowadays I am still interested in being stylish but I won’t be stylish at the expense of my body and my posture.
Because of my narrow shoulders, I had issues with my bras. A lot of bras have the straps placed too far apart for me. That and the fact that for years I had never been fitted correctly for a bra, the straps were always falling off my shoulders. To deal with this I had learned to very subtly but consistently raise my shoulders up toward my ears to keep the straps from falling off. And remember part of my chronic pain issue involved my neck and shoulders!
Finally, going in and being fitted properly for a bra (which for my women readers I highly recommend) I got one that fit. So instead of adapting myself to an ill-fitting bra, I got a bra that fit me. And I had one less thing in my life that was in my way of good posture.
Making these two changes—with how I carry my bag (cross body or a backpack on both shoulders) and getting fitted for the right bra—have allowed my shoulders to stop working so hard. Instead they can widen out and rest on the top of my rib cage where they belong.
In what ways do you accommodate your world when you could change things to better suit you, your body, and your posture? As always, I love your stories and comments.
Photo: F8 studio/Shutterstock.com