‘Stretchercise’ Your Way to Super Power

How many of you have dreamed of being a super hero? What special power would you want to have?

I had the opportunity to ask these questions of Debbie Meyer’s fourth-grade class at Franklin Elementary School. The answers varied from “flying” to “being invisible” to “having super strength.” The over-the-top enthusiasm was bubbling up as they took turns answering. I made them a promise that they would have at least one super power before we parted that day, and I am happy to say I delivered on the promise. But let me back up a little. 

Nicole Will, a very caring parent who visits Meyer’s class every Wednesday and leads the class in yoga and meditation, invited me to come teach the young people some posture stretches I call “Stretchercises.” As soon as the fourth grade, the effects of sitting, backpacks, and technology are profoundly affecting our kids’ postures. These imbalanced postures are not going to get better on their own. This is where having super powers comes in.

We have all heard the message “Sit up straight or you will have bad posture.” Just sitting up is not enough. We must take an active part in developing our ability to have and maintain great posture. Stretching the chest muscles and strengthening the back are a great place to start. 

Simply raising our hands and arms up toward the sky and holding that pose for two or more minutes is a scientifically proven method to raise our testosterone, the chemical that makes us feel strong (super power), and to lower our cortisol, the stress chemical (calming). Check out the YouTube video “Empowering through Body” by Amy Cuddy.

So we all held our hands and arms up for two minutes. It was not easy but we struggled through. Then I taught the posture stretches. The kids did great and they worked hard on doing them with good form and breath. After the lesson of “Stretchercises” we did the power pose again and the kids were thrilled and amazed at how much easier it was to hold up their arms. Great posture helps us have super powers!

Posture is becoming more of a health issue, as well as the answer to many health problems. At any age, we can affect how our bodies feel with just a few simple techniques. As I teach folks ages eight to 92 different posture stretching and strengthening exercises, I see that it is never too early or too late to start a posture program. Stretchercise classes and reposturing therapy are available.

Ann Moore RDT, CMT, is a personal trainer in Alameda. She can be reached at 769-6980  or via www.backtolifewc.com.