Stretches for the perfect posture during the menopause
We can usually guess the rough age of someone walking in front of us because of their gait and posture. It’s a sad fact that, as we reach the menopause, most of us will walk more slowly and we don’t hold ourselves upright – and ‘tech neck’ (double chin and wrinkly neck caused by overuse of gadgets) gets to us all.
One of the easiest ways to knock years off how you look is to make a real effort to improve posture – and it is never too late to start. By standing truly upright, feet flat on the ground, head looking straight ahead, shoulders back and lowered, you immediately feel more alive, certainly taller and it lifts the breasts. Take slow, deep breaths in and out and try to remember how this posture feels, so that you can recreate it when walking. Try to pick up the pace whenever out walking so that it is an effective form of exercise rather than just a means of getting somewhere. As you become more conscious of how you stand, sit and move then you will automatically start to correct yourself. I’m the first to admit that it’s difficult to break old posture habits but I love this one tip for releasing tension and lowering shoulders: hold your arms behind your back and grasp the opposite elbow – this immediately brings you to a more upright position and you can feel the shoulders relaxing downwards. It’s a great movement to hold while waiting for the kettle to boil or if taking a break from your desk or driving.
Another favourite stretch to help improve posture is the back bend. They work our major muscles and improve that unflattering stoop that can develop in older age. For beginners, try the cobra pose: lie on your stomach with your hands placed under your shoulders then press up slowly to arch your back. Keep the spine lengthened, shoulders down and focus on the back and front of the body.
Leading personal trainer Michael Garry says there are three simple stretches we should all do every single day as we get older to protect back, leg and hip mobility:
- Touch your toes with feet placed at shoulder width apart with a slight bend at the front of the knees. This will stretch hamstrings and help relieve any stress in the lower back region.
- Stretch your quads by standing on one leg (hold onto the back of the chair for balance if needed) and tuck your foot up by holding the front of your ankle and pulling it up behind you into your backside. Repeat on the other side.
- Stretch out your calves by standing on a step or on the bottom stair and letting the heels drop until you feel a deep stretch up through the calf muscles.