Growing up, I was quite the water baby. Every summer, I was at the neighborhood pool the moment it opened for the season. I was on the swim team as soon as I was eligible and found out quickly that I was both comfortable and very fast in the water. For a few years, I even attended an intensive summer swimming sports camp—I was the odd man out in that I was one of the few swimmers who only did summer league and not year-round swimming.
Back to that neighborhood pool in the 80s and 90s though.
There was a pool dad there nearly every day—a fit guy with military bearing who was buddies with my dad. I’m sure it wasn’t as often as I remember, but in my memory it seems that every single adult swim (the fifteen minutes each hour when kids had to get out of the pool for a break), I would encounter Mr. B. and he would have The Talk with me.
No, not that talk. The talk about MY POSTURE.
“Shoulders back, shoulders back!” he would say to me as I waited out the speech so I could make way to the ice cream machine. He explained to me how my swimming would be even faster if I stood up tall and straight. He told me I was already tall and would end up being a very tall person, and posture was especially important for me.
I merely waited him out, nodded my head, and went back to slumping.
It’s a good twenty-five years later and I still wonder what Mr. B. would say if he could see me now. I’m sure I’d be greeted with, “Shoulders back, shoulders back!” like in the old days, as I usually do not stand up straight. I’ve always assumed this is because, nine times out of ten, I am taller than the person I am speaking with and inadvertently try to even out by leaning on one foot, leaning on a counter, and even hunching (more than) a little.
My desk posture is preposterously bad, you guys. Even now, while I am writing about bad posture, I am in a poor position at best. My chair (a kitchen chair with an old and inefficient cloth-covered foam pad on it—for “comfort”) is scooted a good 2-3 feet away from my desk, my wrists are resting on the laptop (when they should be poised above the keyboard), my mid-back is arched, and my head is jutting forward kind of like a skinny turtle.
I know that my posture plays a role in my migraines, especially since I have so much neck pain before, during, and after my attacks—oftentimes, neck pain is a trigger for me. I just fall into this lifelong bad habit again and again. I have tried but failed to stick with yoga (which helped with posture somewhat). Walking and exercise help my posture a lot, but lately I’ve mainly been walking to work for exercise, and having a backpack on my back doesn’t help with my tall, “shoulders back!” stance.
I’d love to hear from those of you who used to have bad posture but have since improved. What did you do to make your posture better? How, if at all, did changing your posture for the better help with your migraines?