I started out writing this blog in order to explore how to do my fifties well—how become more like the sexy, feisty, fabulous older women I’d met and admired during my younger years. I certainly don’t want to be one of those tiresome old women who natter on and on about their illnesses and infirmities. However…
Unfortunately, the past year or so has increased my familiarity with physical therapy. (See my entry from February 16, 2015, Wonder Woman v. the Sproing). In early December, my DH had a long-overdue total knee replacement; physical therapy appointments consumed much of his time during the following month. Kudos to the great physical therapy crew at Saint Clare’s Hospital in Tacoma who guided him, via lots of painful exercise, back to strength and flexibility.
My most recent adventure with physical therapy began with a fall down the stairs, my right arm trailing behind me as I grasped for purchase on the carpet. Alas, this led to a stubborn rotator-cuff injury that still hurts, eight weeks after the fall. According to my P.T., my shoulder problem is so stubborn because of my crappy posture.
Even as a skinny, active teenager, I tended to round my upper back and slump forward; I recall my sister calling out “stand up straight” several times a day. I also tend toward lordosis—over-arching my lower back, making my belly protrude forward. Various dance teachers have commented on my posture over the years, and I do my best to straighten up when I think about it—which, evidently, isn’t often enough.
Of course, spending hours a day in front of a computer doesn’t help. An ordinary office desk and chair do not exactly promote good posture. Right now my little laptop is perched atop a thick book (M.F.K. Fisher’s The Art of Eating) in order to better align the screen with my line of vision, and that’s still not high enough. I’ll probably have to buy/build a little platform. The arms on my computer chair are too high and aren’t adjustable, so I’m perched on a pillow on the front edge of my chair, trying to keep my chest up and my shoulder blades scrunched together. Not easy, nor comfortable.
I may not be able to retrain my posture without help. There’s a little electronic gizmo called the Lumo Lift, worn on the bra strap, that buzzes when you slump. Reviews say that it’s relentless and works well if you don’t throw it out the window in frustration. I’ve also found straps to wear around the arms and upper back, which remind me of trussing a chicken up for roasting. And there are cool alternatives to the standard office chair. I’m tempted to get an exercise ball and try balancing on that for a few hours of desk time each day. Some people with back problems swear by them.
I’ve always been resistant to the idea of buying exercise gadgets that clutter up my house. Since this injury, though, I’ve accumulated a tangle of Thera-bands and stretchy resistance rope thingies. Once a day, you’ll find me face-down on the floor, doing my best Superman imitation (Wonder Woman never adopted such a silly posture) as I squeeze my shoulder blades together again and again and again and…
One fun solution I’m trying is Spanish flamenco dance class. Our instructor is a tiny, bird-like woman in her late sixties who has perfect posture and dances with surprisingly fiery fierceness. Flamenco requires just the chest-up-and-out posture that I need to cultivate, and it’s so much more fun than simply muttering to myself, “shoulder blades tight, boobs out.” If I must stand at attention, let’s do it with a purpose. ¡Olé!