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How to Reverse Structural Aging – Part III

Image from page 240 of "The posture of school children, with its home hygiene and new efficiency methods for school training" (1913)The two previous articles are at How Your Structure Ages You – Part II

Virtually all structural issues start as soft tissue contraction and restriction. Scoliosis, the lateral curvature of the spine, occurs from the muscles and fascia contracting unevenly.[1] Most structural aging comes from the stress of life or improper movement or posture. What our mothers, gym teachers, and drill sergeants taught us was wrong. “Standing up straight” creates an artificial appearance of good posture. Over time, it creates more tension and misalignment. For example, holding your “shoulders back” tightens your upper back and shoulders while making your head protrude forward.

Non-posture muscles aren’t meant to HOLD you up – they are meant to move you quickly and easily in any direction. A contracted muscle restricts full movement. You may look like a good statue, standing erect, but you would be dead meat if a predator were stalking you.

Movement is the elixir of life. The Chinese stay young by doing Tai Chi (a simple movement exercise/martial art) in the park every day. They understand if you want to look and feel young, you need to move and release the tension in your body. The East Indians have their yoga. In the US, we have 90-year-old farmers who are out working their farms every day.

As good as it might feel and be for you, you don’t need to go to a yoga class to bring movement back into your life. Start moving in irregular ways. Move sideways, backwards, on irregular surfaces at varied speeds. Get outside and hike a trail. For every 20 minutes of sitting, move for one minute.

The first movement you did is your most important: breathing. In more than three decades of treating patients, including Olympic runners, I never saw anyone who breathed to his or her full capacity. Focus on breathing in a relaxed manner. I don’t mean breathe deeply, I mean breathe so that your entire upper body is relaxed, so you breathe a full breathe in and out. If there’s one movement that can keep you young, it’s the breath.

Start noticing where and when you hold your breath. Then relax. I guarantee the tension will come back, but over time of practicing relaxing and releasing, you will become more relaxed. From there your body will begin realigning and moving with more grace. You can cheat as I do, by getting others to help relax your body; try yoga, cranial-sacral therapy, massage, acupuncture, or Rolfing.

Equipoise, a balance structure, is not a necessarily a perfectly straight structure[2]. It’s a body that is relatively aligned with gravity and moves with ease. I have clients who are in their 90s who are structurally young… so there is hope for you.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advanced Rolfer, – call if you have questions: 265.8440.

[1] “Soft Tissue Release on the Concave Side in the Treatment of Scoliosis… – PubMed – NCBI.” Accessed December 8, 2014.

[2] For more on Structural Aging check out:

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