Why Posture will Change Your Life with a Physical Therapist and Bone Health Expert (HPC: E27)

Tech neck? Text neck?

Whatever we call it, we can’t deny that we spend WAY too much time looking down these days! Alarmingly, it’s changing the shape of our spine. 😮

My guest today is a physical therapist and integrative health coach who believes bone health starts with good posture, and I am so honored to have gotten all this practical advice from Margie Bissinger! When I first heard her speak, I was texting my mom all sorts of notes about bone health, and after today’s interview, we started making little changes in our own family to improve our posture. Start young before bad habits kick in!

In this video we talk about:

  • Why posture is important – it impacts how you feel in your body, and, believe it or not, mentally as well!
  • The 3 curves of the spine that are necessary for alignment (and how we stretch them the wrong way)
  • What we learn from 85-year-old women in Japan (that toddlers already “get” and then forget as we put them in chairs!)
  • What to do about backpacks and the safest way to cross our legs while sitting
  • Kitchen posture – how to stand, height of the counter, what part of your body to engage while practicing safe knife skills with your kids
  • Why laptops will never promote good posture
  • How to use a towel to encourage good posture and a SUPER simple exercise everyone in the family should do a few times a day to train the correct position of the spine
  • The evil called chairs and how to overcome the temptation to slouch

You guys – this is one of the most practical interviews yet! We MUST start believing that posture is a pillar of health, and if we’re feeding our families healthy food, getting enough sleep, moving our bodies and avoiding toxins, we need to spend a few moments on posture too or we still may end up in pain at the end of the day.

Get those FREE videos from Margie that you can use to improve your posture with simple exercises for the whole family here!

We put them on the big TV and practiced all together after dinner, and I put reminders in my phone to “wake up” the muscles Margie says we have taught to be weak!

I accidentally had the wrong mic on while recording this interview, so you can hear my husband typing in the background. Sorry for the impact this has on the sound quality of this episode!

Why Posture with Change your Life Video Time Stamps

  • 1:12: Margie Bissinger Margie Bissinger, MS, PT, CHC is a physical therapist and integrative health coach. She merges her expertise in both disciplines to assist her clients in a comprehensive approach to their health through whole foods, exercise, and mind-body relaxation techniques. She is best known for being a bone and posture expert.
  • 2:29: Posture seems to be a forgotten part of health. When we hear someone say “sit up straight!” it might sound a bit old fashioned.

Child sitting in a chair reading

  • 3:30: Margie kicks us off by explaining why posture is so important. Slump forward and say out loud “I feel great!” Now sit up with your shoulders back and say it again. Which felt better? Our bodies are not made to be rounded over with our heads down or jutting forward. We can pinch nerves, cause numbness and headaches, reduce muscle strength and cause overstretching and pain by sitting slouched over.

The postures that today’s technology puts us in are not normal. We’re moving out of alignment with how our body is meant to be. -Margie Bissinger

  • 5:36: In past generations, unless you were sick, you felt good as a kid! Kids didn’t typically get headaches or have back pain like they do today.
  • 6:10: The natural curve of our neck is to curve inward. Because kids (and adults too!) are on cell phones so much we’re seeing changes to that neck curve on x-rays.
  • 7:07: There are three natural curves to the spine. They help with shock absorption and movement. The neck should curve inward, the middle back goes out, and the lower back goes in again.
  • 7:58: Margie shares her experience vising Japan and seeing firsthand how adults have retained the ability to squat correctly. If you watch a child move around you’ll see that they squat often which maintains the inward curve in the lower back. In the US, we have lost that ability by sitting in chairs so much. Sitting in chairs encourages a rounding in the lower back.
  • 9:15: Sitting in chairs is the beginning of the loss of proper alignment of the spine in childhood. When we used to squat for normal daily activities (like using the bathroom) the curve in the spine was maintained. Now that we don’t have the need to squat regularly anymore, we sit in chairs and bend from the waist, rather than the hips and knees.
  • 10:04: If you have little kids who still squat, encourage these more “primitive” movements. Play on the floor rather than at a table, squat and crawl around. Infants need movement sensory experiences like tummy time, grabbing at their feet and rolling around to develop strength which they can’t do when contained in a bouncer seat for long periods of time.

When we’re using our body how it’s meant to be, we don’t have any problems with posture. -Margie Bissinger

  • 11:56: By learning a few tweaks we can adapt to modern technology in a way that won’t hurt our bodies.
  • 12:11: We carry so many things on our shoulders: backpacks, diaper bags, purses, etc. The key is that you don’t want your bag to put your back curves out of alignment. If it is too heavy, or carried too low on your back or you carry something on only one shoulder that will cause problems. Margie goes over some of the features to look for in a backpack.

If you're in pain while carrying a backpack, something's wrong. -Margie Bissinger

  • 14:48: It’s really hard to change your posture by trying to remember to constantly remind yourself to get into alignment. But there is hope! If you do certain exercises 3-5 times a day, that will increase your awareness of your posture naturally. Margie has 3 free videos showing her recommended exercises which you can find here.
  • 15:34: Margie shows us several ways to sit in a chair while maintaining proper posture. It’s all in the lower  back. If you keep the lower curve of your spine in the correct position, your upper back and neck will fall into place.
  • 19:48: If you’re trying to set the habit of doing Margie’s exercises throughout the day, set a reminder on your phone so you don’t miss it!
  • 20:09: Margie shows one of her recommended exercises to maintain proper posture. It’s so simple! Post a picture of you and your kids doing your posture exercises on Instagram and tag us! @kidscookrealfood and @margiebissinger 😉
  • 21:59: These exercises are not meant to be forceful. We’re not working out the muscles, we’re waking them up.

Once you learn the right way to sit it feels better! -Margie Bissinger

  • 22:27: When your spine is in alignment, your muscles don’t have to work as hard. When your head is jutting forward it can be putting up to 60 pounds of force on your back muscles!
  • 23:43: Margie describes some of the mood benefits of correct posture.
  • 24:28: Kids don’t really care too much about their posture, but they might care about sports, acting or music. If you’re trying to motivate a kid to correct their posture, show them the link between improving their posture and improved performance in an area they want to excel in.
  • 26:22: What about crossing your legs? Try it right now. What happens to your lower back when you cross your legs? It’s best to position your legs wide while sitting. Remember: maintain the lower spinal curve.
  • 27:37: There are some chairs that have you resting on your knees to prevent rounding your back. The  problem with these is that they make it very difficult to move around, and the body likes shifting positions and moving. A seat or cushion that tilts your pelvis forward slightly  is a better option if you need help remembering to stay up on your sit bones.
  • 28:32: It doesn’t happen overnight! As you practice these new postures and exercises, you begin to feel better and don’t want to go back!
  • 29:03: Margie oversees classes of seniors who go through her exercises. Within a matter of weeks, there’s an amazing difference in their posture just from these three simple exercises!

Good posture should not be something that you work at. Good posture, when everything is in alignment, it just falls into place. -Margie Bissinger

  • 29:59: Margie talks about tips for the standing posture. You want to visualize your spine lengthening as if a helium balloon is tied to your head and pulling up.
  • 30:46: Imagine you have won the Olympic gold medal and have it hanging on your chest. You want to show it off so people can see it! Don’t hunch your shoulders over and cover it up.
  • 31:17: Be aware of your joints when you’re standing. Joints should not be hyperextended. For example, don’t lock your knees. Keep your joints soft.
  • 32:01: Your body doesn’t like to stay in the same position for too long. If you need to stand up for an extended amount of time (like in the kitchen) try varying your position by having a small stool and putting one foot up and then the other, going up and down on your toes, or doing hip circles. You want to work different muscles and give them breaks.
  • 33:04: We talk about some upper body posture tips for in the kitchen. Exercises that strengthen the upper back are the key to have that area stabilized. Your wrist should be in neutral when using a knife, and you can use your whole body in the cutting motion rather than isolating the arm.
  • 34:24: In Kids Cook Real Food we talk about putting kids at the correct height to the counter, this also holds true for adults. Just as you want your elbow to be at about a 90 degree angle when typing, you want that same counter height. Not so high that your shoulders come up and not so low you have to bend over.
  • 35:27: When sitting at a computer, you want your eyes to be about level with the top of your screen, maybe a couple inches lower, and your elbows to be at about 90 degrees while typing.
  • 36:03: Our kids are growing up with phones and tablets. We want them to start off with good habits. The key is to bring the phone to you! Instead of slouching to look at your phone, get into a good posture and bring it up in front of your face.

Bring the phone to you! -Margie Bissinger

  • 38:41: Most people use laptops now which is harder to get at the correct height. You can get a laptop stand, keyboard, mouse and monitor to set up your desk for proper posture. This allows you to completely customize where everything is to fit your body.
  • 40:02: Margie gives us a couple practical steps to begin improving your family’s posture today.

Margie Bissinger, MS, PT, CHC is a physical therapist and integrative health coach. She merges her expertise in both disciplines to assist her clients in a comprehensive approach to their health through whole foods, exercise, and mind-body relaxation techniques. She conducts training programs on a wide range of topics, including osteoporosis, happiness, digestion, relaxation techniques, and ergonomics.

Margie is the author of Osteoporosis: An Exercise Guide. She is the creator of Move Today, a New Jersey statewide exercise program and Happy Bones, Happy Life™ online program for people to prevent and treat osteoporosis and osteopenia.

You can find out more about Margie on her website.

Resources We Mentioned

Free Improve Your Posture in Two Weeks videos – this has the exercises we talked about in the interview

Happy Bones Quiz

Happy Bones Happy Life – Osteoporosis and Exercise Master Class

Happy Bones Happy Life Program

The Keys to Stronger Bones Naturally Webinar

Exercise ball chair with back

Disclosure: As an Amazon affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I’m also an affiliate for Margie’s courses, but that doesn’t change your price!

How Posture Will Change Your Life

 

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This is our 10-minute knife skills and safety class for kids ages 2-12:

kids cooking class knife skills video

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