Navigating the challenges of proper posture as we age

Jun 03, 2023
I know that standing straight is good for me, especially since I have osteoporosis.Source: Getty

Most of my friends aren’t completely vertical anymore. Many of them look like they leaning like the Tower of Pisa. I guess it’s just what happens to many of us as we age, including me. 

Here’s how it happened.

I’ve always slumped. I grew so fast in grammar school that in sixth grade I was already 53. I towered over my peers, which gave me an advantage with softball, basketball, and kickball, but as I got older, my height advantage got in the way.

In junior high, I towered over the boys. Sure, many of those guys bloomed late, but I was always at least a foot taller than they were. Hence, I started to slump. I appeared shorter, and therefore they liked me better.

Slumping also came in handy when I didn’t want boys focusing on my breasts. It’s hard for teenage guys to maintain eye contact if two melons are staring them in the face. If my boobs looked a little smaller, maybe the boys would take me at face value for being funny, athletic, or just one of the guys.

My mother always told me to stand up straight, put my shoulders back, and all that stuff. But still, I’ve had a tendency to stoop. I would have failed the posture class. I never would’ve succeeded as a model.

Now that I’m older, I have other reasons that contribute to my posture challenge.

  • My boobs have gotten bigger, so they pull me closer to the ground.
  • I need to be able to focus on the road in front of me so that I don’t trip and break my neck.
  • Theres a bit more oxygen if I stoop. Who needs to be lightheaded when you’re a senior?
  • If I’m closer to the floor I can see what I dropped a few minutes ago. Standing up straight will not give me that advantage
  • If I stoop, I seem shorter and maybe somebody will help me at the market if the box of cereal is out of reach.
  • I don’t have to look strangers in the face when I’m walking, so maybe they won’t bother me.

But I know that standing straight is good for me, especially since I have osteoporosis. At my tallest, I was 58. I have lost an inch, but I am still considered relatively tall.

I also need to focus on standing up straight because I don’t want to end up looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame. My grandmother had a dowager’s hump, so I wonder how tall she would’ve been if she hadn’t succumbed to that.

So as I’m sitting here finishing my column, I am trying to sit up straight and look straight ahead. There’s a lot to see if your eyes arent glued to the floor.

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