Defying Gravity

Defying Gravity: one of my favorite songs from the musical, “Wicked”, and the title of one of Amy Alpers’ fabulous workshops.  As I sit at my desk or try to figure out a good way to be on my iPhone without getting a neck cramp, I hear that song playing in my head and think of ways I can do just that: defy the pull of gravity.

One might think that since I talk about and teach posture and proper alignment all day, I would have perfect posture all of the time.  One might think.  BUT with spending nearly 4 years of my life either pregnant or nursing, toting around two kids, and squeezing in computer work at the end of the day when I don’t have much left in regards to energy, my posture definitely takes a hit.  Recently I have been noticing my shoulders rounding forward and my upper back getting weaker and weaker.  So I have decided to take a stand to actively counter the effects of kids, chairs, smart phones, computers and general LIFE stuff to work on defying gravity.

On the left I am in my “comfortable” sitting position.  That is until my back, neck and shoulders start aching!  At which point I assume the sitting posture shown on the right.

Here is a “four point posture check” that I teach my clients and use for myself:

  1. Sit up on your sitz bones
  2. Pull your abs toward your spine
  3. Roll your shoulders back and down
  4. Pull your face back into your head (weird but try it…did your head stack back over your spine?!)

With less than optimal posture, here are a few things that might happen in the body:

  • head sits forward on the spine causing the neck muscles to have to work harder to keep it on
  • shoulders round forward causing the pecs (chest) to tighten,
  • the upper back rounds, causing those muscles to be over stretched and weak
  • there is a greater load on the low back (lumbar spine) as all of the weight of the upper body sits on that area

The Pilates system is perfect for helping to counter the daily strains on our body.  The equipment in particular, is amazing in promoting decompression of the spine and helping to defy gravity! I highly recommend getting in a Pilates studio anytime you can, but, if you don’t have access to a reformer, cadillac, low chair, or ped-o-pull, you can certainly do things from your office or home to help improve your posture.


Press your arms back behind you to tone the triceps and open the front of the chest.


Start with elbows bent and hands forward (like you are in a bicep curl). Squeeze your shoulder blade muscles as you rotate your arms out to the sides (as shown above).  Add light weights for added challenge.


Look to the right and then nod your head down (chin to armpit) to stretch the side of your neck.  Take your right hand to your head to add a gentle stretch and reach the left shoulder down and away from you for an even greater stretch.  Repeat on both sides.


Reach one arm out to the side and pull your hand and fingers back.  Gently look away from that arm for a greater stretch down the front of the shoulder, arm, and hand.


Tricep and shoulder stretch. Keep abs in and try not to over arch your low back.

We can’t avoid carrying our kids, sitting for long hours, and being on a computer, but we can combat the negative changes they have on our body.  So give these exercises a try and see if your posture improves and if you notice a difference in how you feel.

Interested in Defying Gravity at InsideOut Body Therapies?   Call, email, or schedule online. 919-361-0104

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