Two Simultaneous Epidemics

Your body craves balance – balance in every possible way – but one example of balance I harp on incessantly is the one between the front body and back body. (Lucky for us, it’s one that mindful movement can fix easily too.)

Most of our days are spent in forward flexion, i.e., sitting, slouching, rounded.  This is the posture of sitting, driving, texting, eating and cooking, and if we sleep in the fetal position, sleeping too. Too much of this posture has caused two of the three biggest fitness epidemics: 1. back body weakness and 2. front body tightness.  (The third epidemic, in case you are wondering, is sedentarism.)

Yes, front-to-back imbalance looks unconfident and sloppy. And yes, it causes chronic pain in the neck, shoulders and/or back down the road. But the most detrimental part of this imbalance is that it stops us from receiving and moving energy, which makes us feel and act tired and uninspired. (Not cool!) 

Here are my best tips for restoring front-to-back balance:
1. Don’t sit for long. Get. Up.
2. Do a 5-10minute sphinx pose every single day. Sphinx pose is simply lying on the belly but propping up on your forearms.
3. Make sure your workout brings balance. Things like Pilates, yoga, fusion, Ballet, and swimming are great options. Running and walking are good. Cycling, hiking, and gardening – all of which are great in other ways – don’t promote front-to-back balance, so if you do these activities, be sure to mix them up with some front body openers. 
4. Intentionally strengthen your back. Do things like reverse flies, push-ups, “superman” repeaters, and the Pilates exercise called “swimming.”
5. Intentionally stretch the quadriceps and hip flexors. We always think chest and shoulders when it comes to forward flexion and slouching posture, but the front line of the body includes the hip crease, which is often the tightest spot. I suggest sitting in a kneeling position often. It’s so good for front-to-back balance. 
6. Kick off your shoes. Most shoes have heels and even the slightest heel throws the body into a forward tilt. Walk barefoot as often and possible and choose flat shoes. 
7. YAWN. Just saying the word “yawn” will make you yawn. And when you yawn, be dramatic…do a big exaggerated yarn with your whole body, arms out, chest up. This is sooooo good for front body extension.
8. Strengthen the core. A strong core is like a girdle. It supports an upright spine and will minimize a front-to-back imbalance.

The Zen Buddhists would say this is a case of yin and yang, and they’re right! True wellness is achieved when we see the body as a miraculous whole. Symmetry is pure goldso pay attention to your front body extension and your back body strength. You’ll see, it makes a world of difference to your energy.