A CLINICAL RESEARCH STUDY
Antiaging Strategy, and their most
recent book, Posture Pictures.
"Posture isn't given the respect
it deserves in the medical profes-
sion, but it is a major factor in the
quality of life Weiniger says. "Our
bodies function better when they're
unfolded. We're all going to die at
some time, so the question is how
well will we live? The first tidal wave
of aging baby boomers is bringing
to light many of these posture issues.
"Ironically, posture and balance
problems are commonly accepted as
part of getting old, so they are often
not treated:' Weiniger says. "The
problem is we're living longer, which
gives us more time to accumulate
the consequences of our poor pos-
ture when we were younger:'
The good news is that more peo-
ple are exercising to stay strong and
active even though they may not be
paying much attention to posture. In
his books, Weiniger identifies pos-
ture assessment strategies and writes
illustrated descriptions of exercises
for better posture. He explains that
good posture not only helps back
and neck pain, but it also helps us
feel better because we can breathe
deeper, which reduces stress and
gives us more energy.
"Part of the secret to keeping a
body moving well with age is learn-
ing how to sit, stand and move more
intelligently [biomechanically speak-
ing]:' Weiniger says. "For example,
one of the goals of aging is to main-
tain the ability to continue to walk
"If posture is poor, the head is
usually not stacked on top of the
torso and it takes more energy to
stay balanced. This is also true when
a person isn't symmetrical because
there's more wear and tear on one
side and muscle atrophy takes place.
One side is shorter and the other
side is stretched out and weakened.
This often results in even more
stress and strain:'
According to Weiniger, our bodies
are shaped by genetics and experi-
ences. We can't change our genetics,
but we can choose to improve our
health and exercise habits by work-
ing to improve our posture.
"Most people exercise to increase
their strength and neglect working
on their flexibility when they want
to improve their posture says Bob
Budai, physical therapist at Excel
Rehabilitation Services in Waterford.
"Six-pack abs may look good, but
they have little to do with good
posture and back pain. Flexibility is
often the issue.
"It's important for patients to
understand that a straight back
doesn't mean an up-and-down verti-
cal back:' Budai says. "The impor-
tant things for us to know are how
to have a neutral spine and the posi-
tion where our spine has the least
amount of stress and everything is
aligned. Then we need to be aware
of how we can stay like that when
we're sitting, standing or squatting:'
Connie Grossman of West
Bloomfield is still teaching yoga at
"Even strong people can have pos-
ture problems," she says. "If yoga is
done slowly with deep breathing, we
can focus on the spine and be aware
of the position of our head. Yoga
positions can help stretch out round-
ed muscles and back muscles with a
forward bend, and demonstrate how
to bend from the hips and not from
the neck and shoulder:'
Patients with back or neck pain
often come to see Dr. Stephen
Goldman, D.O., who specializes in
family medicine and neuromus-
culoskeletal medicine at the Novi
Center for Manipulative and Sports
"Much of the time, my diagnosis
is a muscle imbalance and spinal
misalignment," he says. "Often the
problem is poor posture. Because
posture problems are biomechanical,
finding the source usually requires
examining the whole body, not just
the area of pain. For instance, injury
and pain often forces the muscles
on one side of the body to overwork
and compensate causing discomfort.
"Based on what we find, we arrive
at an appropriate physical therapy
program," Goldman says. "The type
of program depends on whether the
patients still have their balance, have
a disability and limited mobility or
they are relatively active.
"It's important for people to
know that when you start having a
problem, such as back pain, and it
doesn't go away after three days, it
should be checked out:' he advises.
"Don't wait to seek help until the
problem becomes so bad that it
becomes chronic. If one doctor says
there's nothing he or she can do,
find someone else who can help you
improve your condition. Don't be
afraid to use the health system."
Weiniger is convinced that good
posture is the right habit for intel-
"Lifespan is how long you live
he says. "Healthspan is how long
you live well. By progressively build-
ing a daily posture exercise routine
that is right for your body, you can
strengthen your posture, improve
your appearance and ultimately move
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