tisdag 7 oktober 2014

3 habits that will make you look old, and 6 cures

These 3 bad habits will make you old

  1. Sitting
  2. Slouching
  3. Short, cautious steps
Slowly, unnoticeably, albeit not as slowly and invisibly as you might think or hope, sitting in chairs for hours every day (at the office, in the car, in the couch, at dinner) will turn your beautiful, purposeful young man's walk into an old man's insecure short-stepped stumbling.

Slouching, instead of straightening your back like an alpha male, will creep into all parts of your life, turning you into a testosterone-depleted and weak hunchback long before your time.

Just by walking carefully, perhaps due to an injury or ice on the ground, or simply because you feel weak, stiff and scared of what might happen if you fall, will make that old man's walk permanent, by weakening your balance and reducing your mobility to your chosen mobility range.

This might be you sooner than you'd like if you keep sitting for hours every day

Sitting shortens your psoas. A short psoas, combined with a weak back and short back train will rotate your torso forward around the slightly bent hip. At the same time your back will end up rounded and hunching. That posture will force you into taking shorter steps, while walking somewhat like a robot.

Slouching begets slouching. If you start slouching somewhere, chances are you'll eventually slouch everywhere. Looking down on your mobile screen, hunching over the computer keyboard, moving the head closer to the computer screen are all examples of slouching. Sooner or later it will stick and be you, and that you will look like an old man. For all practical purposes you will by then be an old man, even if you have recently just turned 40. Slouching and poor posture, not least while sitting increases the risk of disk bulging, restless legs and hernias.

Short steps are often a symptom of having fallen, of pain somewhere, short achilles tendon, short hamstrings/glutes/back train or short psoases. Short, unsecure steps are the opposite of long, youthful strides. By gradually shortening your stride due to fear of slipping, of falling, you will walk with shorter and shorter steps, weakening the muscles that help you keep your balance in the process. Sooner or later, there is no turning back; by then you will have to walk in short, unsecure, stumbling steps to be sure not to fall. Due to falling weaker by the day, you will almost inevitably fall anyway and after that you might end up in a wheelchair if you are old enough.

This is how you can remedy the adverse effects of sitting, your poor posture and some other bad habits

Couch stretch

  1. Couch stretch for the psoas
  2. Squatting for the entire back train and the calves and achilles tendon
  3. Morpheus mobility for the shoulders (added effect from bending the spine in the cobra pose or on a foam roller). Did you know that a common test for your physical age is the "back namaste" - putting your palms together behind your back?
  4. Power postures as recommended by Danger & Play for increased testosterone production
  5. Long youthful strides - don't give up on your long, certain and bouncy long strides. Take advantage of having your hip tendons and muscles in order and stretch out those legs when walking. Trust your balance and agility and they will stay with you.
  6. Deadlifts - okay, this was supposed to be a post entirely about mobility and posture, but weight lifting in general and particularly deadlifts are so good for your entire body, they must be mentioned. Deadlifts enhances your proprioception and balance, stretches your back train as well as build back and shoulder strength, not to mention grip and leg strength. Just lift heavy stuff from the ground occasionally and you'll be all set. With good form, nota bene!

Squatting (from my Instagram account)

Passa på att sitta i squat mellan roddseten #squat #rodd #SATS #fitness

The cobra pose (picture borrowed from the Cleveland Clinic)
-this can also cure restless legs, disk bulging and prevent hernias

3*2^(age/10-3) minutes per month

So, how often and for how long should you perform these exercises?

The answer is "as often as you like and the more the better". You'll thank yourself if you started sooner and did more of them, but I'd say:

  • you can do without them in your 20's
  • should do 5 minutes a month in your thirties
  • 5 minutes every second week in your 40's
  • should aim for 5 minutes every week in your 50's
  • by the time you are retired, and have all the time in the world, you could do well with 1-2 mobility sessions every day. It will keep you agile and probably happy too.

Here is a rough formula for minimum recommended mobility exercises: 3*2^(age/10-3) minutes per month

(3 minutes per month when you turn 30, then double the amount every ten years)

At 27 years old, the formula recommends a little less than 2.5 minutes per month, or 5 minutes every second month, but you really can skip it altogether if you want. On the other hand the sooner you establish the habit the easier it 'll be.

At 43, it's 7.5 minutes per month, and when you turn 100 years old, you should spend 12.8 minutes per day on mobility. If you can do it you are probably alive.

It doesn't really matter how you choose to spread your minutes over the month, but I would recommend doing sets of 3-6 minutes at a time, cycling through all the main mobility movements.

As a parallel, brain scientists recommend midle-aged people take brisk walks for 30 minutes, around 4 times per week to stay alert (in the head, not the body) - and perhaps twice that after retirement age.

a common test for your physical age is the "back namaste"

"back namaste"

And last, a 2 minute video where I show the basic exercises

3 kommentarer:

  1. Great tips. You gave me something to work with here. I´m only 24 but not even close to make the "back namaste". Slouching is a problem for me, I´m 197 cm tall and tend to slouch to get closer to eye level with the people in my surrounding.

    1. Good to hear. All I want is to inspire one person at a time to live a fuller life. I understand it is easy to be 'practical' about being as tall as you are. Since you have to bend to fit in sometimes, you risk bending and slouching all the time.

      I'm happy to hear you are taking the issue of slouching seriously and hope you'll find the time and motivation to look to the sky instead of your feet and do some Morpheus', cobras and perhaps even back namastes from time to time.

      I actually had a bulging disk (precursor to hernia) and restless legs some 5-10 years ago due to a horrendous TV watching position. I fixed that by doing extreme amounts of cobras every day (10x10 times a day for 3 months!). If I had known before what I know now, it simply would never have happened.


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