Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Stretch Band Exercises

Ok so you have a length of stretch band. Here are some ideas as to how to use it to improve your posture, strength, and flexibility.


Breathing exercises and hydrates the spine.

Your ribs insert onto your squishy inter vertebral discs,while also articulating with the vertebrae. The upward and out movement the ribs make when you breathe not only makes your spine lengthen up, as they pull on the discs, but also creates a vacuum in the discs – which makes the discs soak up available fluid. So, breathing exercises and hydrates your spine, as well as providing your body with the right balance of gases. You can see then, that poor breathing patterns lead to a stiffened and poorly hydrated spine, and less than optimal performance in all physiological systems.

You can use the band to give you a reference for your breathing.

It's useful then to determine where you do most of your breathing. The shape of your rib cage gives you a big clue here.

Your rib cage shape is determined by where your breathe. The ideal shape is a slightly compressed circle,and this reflects a balanced breathing pattern : the breath goes laterally into the ribs, backwards into the back, forwards into the chest wall, and deeply into the diaphragm (and from there into the abdominal wall).

Generally people with a flattened, and arched rib cage breathe laterally, but not so well into their back, between their shoulder blades.

Those with a round rib cage may breathe abdominally,or into their upper chests,but not so well into the sides of the ribs.

Place the band around your ribs, fairly tightly, and breathe in and out. Start with the band low on your spare or, floating ribs,then take it up to the abdominal ribs, and finally up to the ribs on the level of your heart. Are you breathing well on all three levels? How much breath is going between your shoulder blades? Place your hand on your belly - how much breathing is going on there?

One mistake that has been made over the years with Pilates is to forbid people to breathe into the abdomen. Your stomach muscles are part of your breathing apparatus. If you walk around with your belly button pulled into your spine the whole time, your spine will be stiff, and your breathing hampered.

Band Raises.

To help shoulder mobility,and to practice posture.

You may need to adjust the band length.

Be in a good standing position. Hold the band at your hips between your thumbs and forefingers.

Breathe in and lift the band until your shoulders and chest feel stretched.

Breathe out and lower the band to your forehead. Your elbows, shoulders and hands are at ninety degrees.

Breathe in and lift.

Breathe out and lower the band behind your head if you can, maintaining elbow angle, and DON'T MOVE YOUR HEAD.

Breathe in and raise the band.

Breathe out and lower to starting position.

If you need to move your head, don't,but instead lower the band to start position

Up and overs

You need enough band here to be able to perform the exercise WITHOUT MOVING YOUR HEAD OR CHEST, but not so much that you can't feel a stretch.

Good standing.

On the inhale, lift band

On the exhale, stretch the band and lower it behind you.

On the inhale, repeat from behind.


Bicep Curl

Stand on the middle of the band, holding the ends in each hand.

Keep the elbows fixed ie the upper arm does not move,

Breathe out to bend the elbow, breathe in to straighten.

Triceps - seat belt fastening

To tone bingo wings

Put your right arm behind your back,between your shoulder blades,and hold one end of the band. Bring the band over your right shoulder,and hold onto it with your left hand,close to the front of your right shoulder.

Breathing out, pull the band down to your left hip,keeping close to your body, as if doing up a seat belt. Breathe in to take it back.

100 arms

To tone the arms, to breathe.

This exercise uses the 100 breathing.

Start with the band close to the hips,and check the tension,by pulling on both ends. Then take 20 breaths in the following positions -

  • down by the hips,
  • at waist height
  • above the head
  • low, behind the waist
  • high, behind the waist
From Sitting

To mobilise the spine,and strengthen tummy and hip flexors. You can use the bands around the soles of your feet to help with your roll-backs.Make sure that your arms stay long and shoulders and neck stay relaxed. (As an alternative,a small cushion placed under the small of the back works wonders.).

California Rollbacks

To strengthen the arms, core (you will feel that particularly in the presses), stomach muscles.
Rollback half way with the band - then take 6 of each of the following
  • bicep curls (elbows stay fixed)
  • flies (softly bent arms) - arms stay at shoulder height and open away from each other
  • presses - take the band down to the floor, and back
Lying on your back
Knee circles
- to mobilise the hip joints. Pick up one knee and place the band over the knee, with the lower leg relaxed. Circle 6 times in each direction, keeping the upper body relaxed.

Leg stretches Keep left knee bent, foot on the floor and place the band over the right foot. Keep neutral pelvis for all three stretches. Hamstring stretch - raise the right leg and extend your leg high, , till you feel a stretch in the back of your leg. Release the stretch and repeat 6 times. Inner thigh stretch - take the leg out to the right, as close to the floor and to your right shoulder as you can. Outer thigh stretch - take the leg across the body. Change leg and repeat Now, remembering the ends of your range of movements, and keeping your pelvis still, (use the opposite gluteal muscles), take 6 leg circles with the band in each direction.


To strengthen the medial gluteals, which will strengthen and balance the hip joints.
Lying on your side,with the band tied fairly tightly around your knees, open the knee on the exhale. Keep the heels connected and pressed together.

Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Why am I doing this?

Why practising the above exercise will help prevent having to get out of a car like this.

"Why am I doing 'this'?"

WAIDT is the plaintive cry I sometimes hear in class, usually from clients who are having problems doing 'this', whatever 'this' might be.

Most recently 'this' was a deceptively innocent little manoeuvre, a kneefold with a rotation. My client was lying on his back, one knee bent with his foot supported on the floor, the other knee was up over his hip, and he was attempting to rotate his thigh in his hip joint. Which is easy enough to say, and easy enough to do judging by the performance of most of the rest of the class. However this particular client’s experience of the exercise was more reminiscent of Kafka’s Gregor Samsa’s efforts to control his metamorphosed beetle body, than the effortless lift and twist that most of his classmates were performing. Fortunately for this client’s ego he was sandwiched between two other men, the left flank proudly declaring that he could do “this” with his left leg, while the right flank groaned in disappointment. In other words, between three middle aged men, they only had one hip between them which was supple enough to facilitate this movement. Most of the women however, had no problem. And expressed their surprise that the men were complaining. (A common theme.).

“Why are the women able to do 'this' when we can’t?”

I don’t want to be sexist about this: I’ve got female clients’ with stiff hips, and male clients with flexible hips (actually the second half of that statement is stretching the truth), but generally women have evolved with extra flexibility in this area, so that they can give birth without breaking bones.

The supplementary question, (I had yet to answer the first one) was why then, was I putting my client through this tortuous and evidently torturous 'this', when he would never have to give birth, not at his age at any rate. He would have been far happier doing the exercises he could do such as spine curls, hip rolls etc.

Why was he doing 'this', when 'this' was a movement which he couldn't relate to his daily life?'

Good question.

The exercise was both a test of , and then an exercise in, hip flexibility, in a couple of planes of movement. And no, its functional application is not terribly obvious, though if you have to turn a corner as you go up the stairs, then it’s useful to be able to lift your leg and rotate your pelvis at the hip joint as you straighten your leg – it’s the same movement, as in the exercise, reversed. And just changing direction on the flat involves rotation at the hip.

If you can’t do 'this' rotation, because of stiffness, how does your body cope with the task of climbing stairs where a change of direction is required? Or getting out of your car? Well, your body has a series of joints which facilitate rotation: the ankle, the knee (very limited), the hip, the pelvis/spine, the neck…you get the idea.

Out of all these mentioned, the hip, a ball and socket joint, has evolved with a greater degree of rotation than the other joints. (Similarly, the shoulder - also a ball and socket joint, and a shallower and more flexible one at that.). But if the hip joint won’t rotate when you change direction (because it’s become stiff from sitting for hours everyday at a desk, in a car), then another joint will have to, or going up and down stairs will take a lot longer than it used to. Going up the chain of movement from the hip, rotating your spine isn’t going to get you from A to B. Only your legs will do that. The next joint down the chain of movement is the knee – it’s a hinge joint, stabilised against excessive rotation with cruciate ligaments. If the hips are stiff, those ligaments will stretch and the knees are going to suffer - but they will twist if they have to.

Fundamental to our work in Pilates is maintaining and increasing where appropriate, the range of motion at the joints. If any part of the body is stiff, (the muscles, the fascia, the joints,) then in order to get about, the body will accommodate movement by increasing flexibility elsewhere. You often see this when the lower back is stiff: the upper back becomes excessively mobile and weak. Knee problems may also ensue.

So, the answer to the WAIDT question was to improve the flexibility of your hips and to save your knees and back. Keep practising!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

How drive-time can help you improve your posture.

Driving and Evolution
We didn't evolve to sit in a car-seat or chair of any kind. When our forbears wanted to sit, they squatted, as they still do in many chairless cultures. We've done without chairs for millions of years, and only had them for a few centuries, yet now most of us spend the greater part of our days in something that requires us to flex our hips at a right angle.

We've all felt achy and stiff after a long drive, and to be honest, this post probably won't completely alter that experience. But I hope you might find some ideas that you can use to make the most of a sedentary experience.

So you've got a seat, a head rest, a steering wheel, and some pedals. What can you do with that driving/exercise equipment?

Safety first: these exercise ideas are meant to be carried out when your car is stationary, hand-brake on.

Back rest
Let's start with the back-rest. Most car seats these days are pretty well-designed to support the spine, following the curves of the lumbar area, the ribs, and a head rest (for adequate whiplash support the bottom of this should be in line with your ears, according to www.backcare.org). But you might notice that quite a lot of people don't use it. They incline forward, quite a lot. Sometimes that's accompanied by aggressive driving......... So my first suggestion is to use your back rest, if you don't already, to rest your back.

Correct angle?
Make sure that the angle of your seat is slightly larger than 90% for your comfort, and in order to avoid excessive hip flexion, which helps lead to tight hip flexors (the muscles which connect your thighs to your pelvis and spine).

Adequate seating?

Be aware of how the contours support your spine, and if they don't, and you spend a lot of time driving, you should consider changing either your car, or getting a seat support such as those featured here http://tiny.cc/X66D7

Use your back rest to help you improve your breathing
I use my back rest to help me breathe into my back.........I've got a fairly flat thoracic (rib-cage) section in my back, and I don't naturally use this back section of my lungs to their full capacity. So when I'm stuck in traffic jams, I settle into my seat and direct my breathing into my back : I can feel my inter-costal (between the rib) muscles expand, and contract here, and it helps me to correct my posture.

Strengthen your neck
You can use your head rest to push your head back into - keep your chin slightly tucked and check that you are neither looking up nor down, and press the centre of the back of your head into the head restraint on an exhale, releasing on an inhale.
This is a good exercise if you have a head poke position, as it strengthens the back of your neck, helping to bring the head back to its optimum position.


I sometimes teach self-massage techniques in class, and when we compare before and after on the flexibility of our shoulders for example, it's amazing how effective a couple of minutes gentle massaging of the joints is. For example you can take your right hand, and work your fingers along your collar bone from where it starts, just under your chin and to the left, along to the tip of the shoulder, and round the shoulder joint, following the seam of your clothing. Squeeze and release down your arm, all the way down to your hand. It passes the time when stuck at the traffic lights.

You can also massage your jaw and help it release: the muscles which connect your upper and lower jaw, are pound for pound, the strongest in the body. Very often these muscles are tight, and over-used, and can lead to a stiff neck (try your movement quality as you turn your head from side to side with gritted teeth and then again with a relaxed jaw.) . Take your middle fingers from your temples and stroke fairly firmly down your cheek to your lower jaw, and then gently down your neck. Compare the two sides.

Your steering wheel.......
should be held, not gripped! Both hands on the wheel of course, and at 10 to 2, or 20 to 4, but check that your shoulders are not up by your ears as you drive.
Again, when stationary, you can use the wheel as a piece of exercise equipment. Check your shoulders are wide and released down your back. Clasp the wheel, but not tightly, and be aware of your shoulders drawing into your rib cage, like a pair of suckers. This exercise will help to improve the stability of your shoulders, and help prevent injury.

Leg position
Your knees should be slightly bent. And check that you are not allowing your foot and leg to be rolled out - ie resting on the outside of the foot. This places excess tension on the muscles on the outside of your legs, which then pull on the hips and low back.

Regular Rests

By that I mean rest from sitting! As often as you can, stop, and get out and stretch your legs. If you stay in any one position for too long (more than half and hour or so), your fascia (soft tissue) sets, a bit like a jelly setting. The longer the sit, the stiffer the jelly, and the more uncomfortable you will be. My brother-in-law once gave a young man a lift in the back of his car, after a rugby match. The lad was very tall, and despite many enquiries as to whether he had enough leg room, protested that he was quite comfortable. There was an hour and a half's drive. On arrival, the door was opened for him, and he fell out, having completely set in his contorted sitting position.

Bear in mind that because our bodies have this tendency to set in whichever position we have stayed in, our seated posture will have an influence on our standing and walking posture. So if you drive with your shoulders tense, your jaws clamped with rage, your head poked forward, your posture is not going to be great when you get out of the car.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Do You Have Flat Feet?

Do you have lifeless feet, dropped arches? About 30% of us have. For many people they do not cause problems, but for others they are part of the jigsaw of reasons for their knee pains, or back pains. Many of my clients have this condition: they don't come to me because of their feet, but usually because they have low back pain. By improving the strength and resilience of the feet, other joints, including the spine are put under less strain.

Your feet contain one quarter of the bones in the body: that's amazing! There are 26 bones in each foot, out of a total body count of 204. As the "average person" you might take between 8 and 10,000 steps a day, and each step bears at least your body weight - when you run it's more.
There is a connection between poor foot alignment and postural problems and back pain. Your feet are the foundations to your moving body with three basic functions. They absorb impact, and carry your entire body weight. (Many foot problems are experienced by the overweight, not surprisingly.). They act as a lever, propelling you forward. They also compensate when your balance is challenged, by doing their darndest to keep you upright.

Arches give strength to constructions: (think of a simple arched bridge, or more complicated vaulted cathedrals - both rely on the same principle), and the well aligned human body is a series of arches, from the feet, to the s curves of the spine.

The "normal" foot has two arches: one runs lengthways, the other widthways. In normal standing, a third of the inner side of the foot, formed by these two arches, should be off the floor. If it isn't, you have flat feet (also known as over-pronation). (The other extreme is to have high arches (over-supination), where there is a tendency to walk primarily on the outside of the foot.).

Flat feet are often associated with inefficient side bum, and inner thigh muscles: this often leads to knees which track towards each other.

Orthotics, supports, which fit in your shoes, are one possible solution.
Part of my work with clients with dropped arches is to get them to exercise the arches of their feet, and so develop strength and change in this way. Of course we also look at the rest of the body, with specific exercises to improve their alignment, strength and balance, as well as the feet.

Exercises to correct dropped arches, bunions, and hammer toes
These are the exercises we use, and you may find them helpful to do. (A very small percentage have congenitally flat feet and no amount of exercises will make a difference.)
You will need a tennis ball or similar - we use "spiky balls" in class.
Standing. Repeat about 10 times on each foot for each exercise - it will take about 5 minutes.

1)Knead one foot on the ball from your toes to your heels . (not pictured).

2) Try to pick up the ball in your toes: as you do it extend your toes away from the ball, and then contract them around it.

3) Work specifically on the arches by trying to curve the arch of your foot around the ball.

4) Without the ball now - in standing, keeping your toes as relaxed as possible, draw the ball of your foot towards your heel.

5) Rise up on the balls of your feet. Keep your toes down, and your weight evenly on the inside and outside of your foot. When you lower your foot, use the underside of the toes and arches to pull you down to the floor. (not pictured)

Flat feet are often associated with inefficient side bum muscles: this leads to knees which track towards each other, so.......
6) small squat. Hinge at the hips and the knee and sit back, as if you were sitting in a chair. Have a look at your kneecap/toe alignment. Your knees should be over your 2nd/3rd toes, not your big toes. If necessary, place a football between your knees to keep this alignment. This will turn your side-bum muscles on. (not pictured).

If you do these exercises regularly, you should see a difference in the shape of your foot, as the arches strengthen. From my personal experience, I watched my left over pronated foot gain an arch and lose a bunion, as my foot learnt to carry my weight in a more balanced and efficient way.

For classes on these exercises, and many others for a balanced, well-aligned body, see www.gardenpilates.co.uk

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Heavy Bags will Injure your Spine.

As healthy humans our birthright is good postural alignment. As pre-school children we have upright posture, we have a full range of movement, we can express our physicality freely and easily.
Then a catastrophe is imposed on our bodies: we are sent to school.
We are made to sit for hours, and we carry heavy bags, and within a few short years we develop postural habits that we may spend the rest of our lives living with.
This is something that has got worse over the years: when I was at school, we had desks to leave our books and possessions in, and only carried in our bags what we needed that particular evening. Nowadays we expect schoolchildren to carry all their books around all the time, and the weight children are expected to carry about with them is disproportionate to their own weight and strength.
As you can see from this illustration, heavy back packs force the child to round her shoulders and poke her head forwards. Often backpacks are slung over one shoulder, so the weight is not evenly distributed. Scoliosis (curvature of the spine) is often a result of carrying a bag on one side, while the spine is growing.

You can help your child to maintain good posture.

Get the best possible bag for their back: have a look here
http://www.ergonomicschoolbags.co.uk/ as a starting point for the sort of bag to look for. I advise padded shoulder straps, and a sternum and hip belt.

Help them empty their bags of unnecessary stuff. Only take what they need.

School lunches instead of packed lunches lessen the amount they have to carry.

Weigh your child's loaded backpack - it should weigh no more than 10% of his or her own bodyweight: if it weighs any more than this s/he will have to change their posture to respond to the load. Does your child's school really want to ruin their childrens' backs?

The bag should not be low on their bodies, and should end less than a couple of inches below the waist. If it's too low it will pull them backwards and they will respond by leaning forward.

Make sure the bag is worn over both shoulder straps, and not left hanging from one!

The smaller the bag, the less they can put in it! Within reason, keep the bag's size small, or they will fill it up with unnecessaries.

Bags with various pockets and compartments are a good idea for organisation.

Make sure pointy items are placed in parts of the bag where they cannot dig into your child's back.

This advice applies not just to children, but also to adults.............make sure that your sore shoulders, neck tension, upper back pain is not caused by carrying too much, in an inappropriate bag.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

10 tips to avoid Back Pain

These 10 tips are "Common Sense"........
1) Drink plenty of water ............Good hydration is essential to a healthy life. That means your overall well-being, but also the health of each body-part, each joint, down to each individual cell.
Take the spine as an example: our spinal bones, our vertebrae are cushioned from each other by discs: these discs are composed largely of water.
For the first 30 years of our lives, our discs are 90% water and then, due to wear and tear, they leak.......and end up at maybe 65% water. You might think of these discs as being water filled balloons, cushioning our spines as we move. The molecules in the nucleus of our discs are the largest in the human body and are capable of taking up 250 times their own weight in water.
Therefore you should drink plenty of good quality water, to increase the hydration in the discs, and so to decompress your spine. Caffeine can irritate the bladder, so you can't really count what you drink in tea and coffee (or energy drinks containing caffeine) as part of your hydration - rather than plumping out your cells, it goes straight through. About 2 litres a day would be good, tap water is ok.

By hydrating your cells, you facilitate the flushing out of toxins, and the optimising of all bodily processes from digestion to co-ordination to thinking about your posture........

Water helps you grow taller!
Picture from :~draniu

2) Good Nutrition What are you feeding your poor old cells for their lunch? Coke? A bag of crisps? A twix? Well no wonder they are hunched over each other!
Your body has 210 different cell types, and together they make up to approximately 100 trillion cells in your body, give or take a few trillion. You have a huge responsibility to feed them all properly!
They need a balanced diet so that they can optimise all the functions that they have to perform - just like you they "think"or organise themselves, exchange food and water for waste, and are part of a wider world (of your body). Feed them junk and they won't feel very well, and neither will you.
There is a welter of information available about eating well: I'm a fan of Jane Clarke myself, and there is loads of useful information on her web-site and in her books. I would urge moderation, avoid processed foods and think the following are useful.
Eat fruit and veg, particularly green veg. Eat protein.
Eat fibre. One of the enemies of good posture and health in general is constipation. The lining of the gut is attached to the spine, and contraction here provokes a contraction of the back muscles. Any discomfort affects posture. Constipation, and hard faeces are also disastrous for the pelvic floor, as they cause straining. Pelvic Floor health is integral to the health of the spine, (a subject for another post).
Don't eat too much of any one thing - particularly wheat. Toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, pasta for dinner? You are overdoing the wheat. And as far as bread goes, if you poke a slice of bread, and it doesn't spring back, don't put it in your mouth. It's sticky, clammy, pappy consistency that sticks to the roof of you mouth also sticks to your intestines, and not in a good way. It is Chorleywood processed, which is great for the manufacturers who like their loaves to last a week, and to speed up their manufacture. It's not great for your gut.

So, eat a variety of unprocessed food, and not too much of it.

Feed your body well!

If you are not sleeping properly, your body is not rested. A tired body cannot function at it's best, and your posture will be affected. Do what you can in the way of relaxation before you go to bed, (and I mean reading and a bath: the tv in the bedroom is a stimulant, not a relaxant.). If you are stressed try breathing exercises. There are some good stress relief CDs here. And look here for postural tips for sleeping.

Your body needs to rest!

4) Posture
Good posture will allow your muscles to assume their correct alignment: result? a well balanced body, free from pain caused by misalignment.
Try to make your posture as tall as you can. Lengthen up from the tips of your ears, and your spine will decompress.
Be as symmetrical as you can. Avoid carrying heavy loads, particularly in shoulder bags.
Wear appropriate shoes.........flip-flops, high heels, flat shoes, mules are all ok every now and again, but on a regular basis your feet should be supported by an arch, and your toes should not have to constantly grip to keep your shoes on! I particularly like MBTs .
Find out about your own postural tics, and learn how to correct them - see a Pilates teacher, or an Alexander Technique teacher.
Don't sit with your legs crossed: this lengthens and shortens tissue in your legs which should be balanced.
Check out my blog!

Be as tall as you can and as symmetrical as you can!

5) Avoid Stress
Sit up tall and straight, even if it's just for a moment while you are reading this. notice how it feels to sit up on your sit bones, widen your collar bones, and release your shoulders and arms. Take a few deep breaths, and feel your spine lengthen. Just be for a moment or too, and see how you feel.

How does your spine feel? hopefully tall, and good. Shoulders? Relaxed?
Now focus back on your problems, and see what happens to your body. You may still feel a bit better after doing a couple of moments of relaxation, but have you sunk half an inch or so? And have your shoulders surrendered to your neck?
When you are stressed your body adopts a defensive posture around your vital organs, hence the hunched shoulders, tense neck, and hunched posture. And does this posture help solve your problem?

Well no. This posture is an evolutionary hang over from a time when we needed to safeguard our vital organs against attack........and it is also a behavioural indicator of our place in society. Notice how dogs behave when they want acceptance from other dogs: the top dog will maintain an erect spine, tail held high, head up, and the submissive dog assumes a slumped, submissive posture. It's a useful way to avoid a fight, but it reinforces submission to your problems, and stresses your body's vital systems, by decreasing the space available to breathe and digest.

So if you are stressed, do what you can to decrease your load.

Reduce your stress load and lighten upwards

6) Avoid Trauma
I have taught Pilates classes for getting on for 10 years, and my job in the main is to help people rehabilitate their back strains. So I teach them how to strengthen their spines, pick out quirks about their posture and help them correct how they hold themselves: I teach them how to breathe, and how to relax, and, in the main, as a team which consists of myself and the client, we are fairly successful.
And then, maybe after a couple of years or more of good back health, my client will come limping into class.
What went wrong?
"I twisted while I was picking up the tv."
"I went shopping and slipped on the ice "
"I was gardening and using my husband's tools."
"I am looking after my elderly mother and had to pick her up on my own."
Usually, because they have gained good muscle strength, they will get better sooner rather than later...........but sometimes I just wish people wouldn't do silly things.
The most common method of straining the back involves picking up a weight, while rotating at the same time. Here is an excellent short video, from an Alexander Teacher which explains how to pick things up safely.

If a fleeting thought tells you that whatever you are about to do might cause you harm, pay attention!

7) Don't aggravate your problem
Ok, you might have a sore shoulder, or hip, and every now and then, just to check that it's still there, you move into a position that gives you pain, or you poke it. Effectively you are bruising (again) tendons and soft tissue, that left alone, would get on with healing themselves. Stop doing that! If it doesn't get better, get help, don't poke it.

And if running aggravates your knee and back health then stop it for the time being and get advice from a sports therapist. Or you won't get better.

"I went swimming"........hmmm..... swimming sounds safe enough, but if for instance, you swim breaststroke with your head out of the water, your lower back will be strained. Breastroke is also notoriously bad for knee problems. Learn to swim properly, preferably front or back crawl. Have a look at this site.

If you have a desk job, then sit up properly, take breaks where you get out of your chair, and stretch. Just look at this picture and see how your posture can disturb the balance of muscles around your neck, shoulders, and low back.

Take good care of your body! Love it like it was your own!

8) Relax

That doesn't just mean slump in a settee watching The Wire.........
Transcendental Meditation is just about the acme of active relaxation..........and it will allow you to switch off from your busy thoughts, and just focus on your breathing: your body will relax.

But how about painting? sculpting? playing a musical instrument? walking in the country? on a beach? having a pet? learning something?

Switch off from your worries!

9) Exercise

Your posture is an expression of your muscular and skeletal system. Weak muscles won't hold your body in an optimal position, so you need to exercise them to keep them strong.
We evolved as erect bipeds, so please keep that in mind while you are exercising. Walking is just about the best exercise, with the added advantage of being free. it will improve your cardio-vascular health. Walk fast, walk often, walk in good shoes and walk tall.
But there are other sorts of exercises........................
Pilates and yoga are great for strengthening and discovering your individual tics and imbalances, and correcting them so that you can walk properly.
Have fun while you exercise - that's where ball-sports come in. Just make sure you have a good sports therapist.
The gym - yes great, but bear in mind that a healthy body is a balanced one, and that huge, tight pecs and shoulders are going to restrict your neck movement, and that enormous biceps are going to stop your arms from being able to straighten.

Walking is the best exercise.

10) Moderation in all things........
Nuff said!