Most of us know that we could have much better posture. Improving posture can seem like just one more thing on the to-do list. Most busy people would rate it somewhere around the bottom of the list. There’s an easy way to break old posture habits. It involves driving the car. But, before you can begin the process of improvement, it’s important to assess your current posture.
A quick test to assess posture: stand with your hands at your sides, facing a full-length mirror. Shoulders should be square, feet about shoulder-width apart and weight evenly distributed. Notice which way the palms of your hands face. If they face the sides of your body, your posture is on the right track. If they face behind you, your posture is in need of a make-over. Hands facing backward indicate slumped shoulders and a head that is carried too far forward.
So, what does driving have to do with improving your posture? According to research done by the Sierra Club, Americans spend an average of 443 hours per year in the car. This is the equivalent of 11 work-weeks. The time spent commuting, carpooling, running errands, and driving kids to school or sports events is time we can use to perform very brief posture checks, improving posture as we drive.
Some learning experts say that it takes approximately one month of consistent repetition to make a new habit. You can pick checkpoints in your normal driving routes that remind you to realign posture basics: shoulders should be down and back. Head should be touching the headrest. Abdominals should be pulled in and upward (think belly button reaching toward the spine.) A quick check of the car seat will tell you if you are sitting too upright and/or too close to the steering wheel. Your arms should be slightly bent at the elbow. The seat back should be at a slight backward slant instead of straight.
Here are some ideas for implementing the posture check into your lifestyle. Those who live in a big city might pick a few regularly-seen landmarks. Smaller-city residents can choose several stoplights on a particular route. Whatever your environment, make regular posture checks a part of your driving experience. Once you’ve grooved the habit, core muscles that support posture will become stronger. You’ll find yourself standing taller and feeling better without even noticing the time spent in the transformation.
- Pam Brooks