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The invasion of the body slumpers

I don't know about you, but as a child I can remember being terrified after watching 1950's science fiction movies. Looking back as an adult, they now just seem a bit silly.

But you know what? Looking around, it occurs to me, that the Invasion of the Body Slumpers is already here.

So have you been taken over?

Have you ever...

  • Pulled your head back and down?
  • Completely squashed the back of your neck, so far in fact that your neck may have completely disappeared?
  • Exposed the front of your throat and stuck out your chin?
  • Rolled your shoulders forward so that the whole of the front of your body is collapsed?
  • Noticed that your ribs are in danger of making contact with your stomach?
  • Rounded your upper back in a way that would do a gnarled old, fairyland witch proud?
  • Rotated your pelvis underneath, so you’re sitting on the lowest part of your spine?

Welcome to the very common, world of The Slump. Don’t get me wrong. I know how easy it is to fall into The Slump’s trap. It’s easy, familiar and look around any public space and you’ll notice that lots of people seem to do it.

I’m more than prone to a slump it if I’m tired, miserable or experiencing a “can’t be bothered” mood. But thankfully, my slumps are becoming more and more short-lived and I’ll show you how to do the same yourself.

It’s not just not pretty it’s also BAD for your health

The slump or slouch is not a pretty sight. But as I’ve been discovering recently, slumping can also seriously damage your health. I don’t want to cause undue alarm (generally I don’t like to cause a fuss!). But you need to know that The Slump is not good.

It’s obvious that using the body in this way can be disastrous for our back – cue lots of back and neck pain, wear and tear on joints.

But what I hadn’t been aware of until recently is that scientists at the University of Leeds think slouching may also be linked to issues with blood pressure. They’ve discovered that cells in neck muscles send messages to the brain when we move, possibly to make sure our blood supply is adequate. When our posture is poor (think hours and hours slumping) these neck muscle cells can be damaged leading to less than perfect blood pressure. The researchers admit that more research is required but I don’t know about you, but I’m prepared to take their word for it.

So far, that’s reason enough to stop slumping, but there’s more. Researchers at the University of Queensland have found that women suffering from a prolapse or stress incontinence have less curve in their lower spine than women who don’t have these issues.

“If you’re sitting in a slumped, C–shaped posture, there’s more weight bearing down on your bladder and pelvic floor muscles, which will weaken them over time and make you more likely to leak.” Explains Sammy Margo of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Enough said there I think.

My daughter demonstrating how to sit well without a hint of a slump - she was determined to get involved somehow.

So what can we do to stop this invasion of slumping?

Here’s my quick step guide to help you fight back.

1.Think of your head moving gently upwards away from the shoulders.  This isn't about lifting the chin up and in fact you may need to lower it a tiny, tiny amount so that the back of the neck is nice and long. If you place your hand on the top of your head, just slightly to the back, this is the area that you want to imagine is moving upwards.

Release any tension in the shoulders and upper back, maybe move a bit if this will help. It’s not something you can force, it’s more about undoing the tension and letting it happen, so don’t put effort into this.

 2.When asked to sit up straight, many people fall into the trap of narrowing the back and sitting the chest out. This just leads to more strain. Think of widening across the back and of the shoulders gently heading in opposite directions as your head lengthens upwards.

 3.Sit on your sitting bones (the part of your pelvis that is designed for the purpose). To find them (best not to do this in a public place) place your hands underneath your bottom and you should find two nobbly bits of bones. Make sure they are directly underneath you- if you’re sat on a hard chair, you should be able to feel them. Gently think of your back stretching upwards, not trying to flatten it in any way, but allowing its natural gently curves.

 4.Breathe. Don’t try and hold this as a posture so that you’re sat completely rigid, think of it as a dynamic process.

Together, we can fight this deadly invasion.

Over to you

So I’d love to know how you got on. Firstly, where and when do you tend to slump? Is it more likely to happen at a certain time of day or when you sit in a particular chair? And how did you get on with the four steps?

Photo credit: - Everett Collection