Practice makes perfect with posture

Because I try not to dwell on my physical ills, I know I am stepping out of the box and my comfort zone. But I really feel led to share the following.     

Since Jim’s and my bad fall a few months ago, I have had big-time trouble with my balance. Therefore, my doctor prescribed physical therapy. Two to three times a week, the PT gal worked with me on regaining my strength and balance. 

When the course was done,  she wrote down daily exercises for me to do.

I was religious about doing them. It was no fun working in the hallway by myself and I sometimes thought it was useless. Here’s the deal — I have had Harrington rods going from my upper spine down to my tail bone since 1990. They do not bend or move. Here’s the problem — from the top of my rods upward, there is nothing to hold my head upright, so over the years, my head bent forward more and more. Not only was I getting the usual back hump but my head fet heavier and heavier. Not one doctor or nurse or home health person ever said what to do until now.Here is what she said.

First of all, I walk with a walker, though the same rules would apply walking alone or a cane. If you use a walker, be sure the handles are the right height for you to stand straight.

Now, place your feet even with the two back wheels so you don’t have to bend over.

Then relax your shoulders, pulling them back and down. Look straight ahead and tuck in your chin. Make your back as straight as possible, then walk. I know it does not feel normal or comfortable, especially the chin tuck. Do it anyway. If the pain in your shoulders and neck gets too bad, stop, sit down, readjust the steps I gave you and start again. No matter what, do this every day. You will catch yourself letting you head flop over but just stop and start over.

I need to tell you that this can hurt. I have this bad posture go on for years so I had a lot of ground to cover. The pain almost did me in at times. Then one night I went to bed feeling particularly sad about all this.

And here is my true story. The next morning when I stood up out of bed, I felt my body stand straighter and my head was sitting where it should be on my neck. I  was absolutely shocked. Mornings are generally the worst times. And when I bent over to feed the cats, I easily picked up their bowls and replaced them on the floor just as easily.

What was going on? Am I dreaming? I could not wait to check this out further so I dressed quickly (even before my coffee), went into the hall and did every step. Body straight and tall, feet in place, shoulders back and down, chin tucked, eyes straight ahead and now, I walked. It felt right and comfortable, no pain.

Once I felt my head try its old tricks and fall forward but I just stopped, sat down, readjusted, started again and I walked my first lap as I should, really for the first time. That lasted all day long, every time I walked anywhere. Two days later, I am still doing it right!

I felt it was a miracle. Maybe my angel helped me get it right but I know something happened over that night. If you are struggling to keep you body and head straight, maybe you could try these steps. I wish you luck. Maybe your angel will help you as well.

The view from the mountains is wondrous.

Jean Brody is a passionate animal lover and mother. She previously lived in Winchester, but now resides in Littleton, Colorado. Her column has appeared in the Sun for more than 25 years.