Contest Winners - How To Sit Up Straight
The Fitness Fixer
The Fitness Fixer

Contest Winners - How To Sit Up Straight

What does it take to sit up straight? Is it possible that the numbers of physicians, surgeons, instructors, and trainers who entered did not know? We now have five winners:

Paul J was first to write in to the contest with understanding,

"Brains are required to think and correct bad posture."

Steve Rice knew it when he wrote in the hints that first in importance, above doing any strengthening or stretching is,

"1. Engage the brain to develop better postural habits. No matter how strong the elongated muscles get, and how long the contracted muscles get, if the brain says "slouch" that's what the body will do. The other steps (stretch/strength) are necessary but not sufficient to fix the posture problem.

He also correctly stated that you use back muscles (not abs) to pull your spine back to straighten from rounded forward.

Bika Bill, fellow rider, writes in contest comments,

1. Only the brain is required. I simply have to do it!
2. Name the muscles -- lean back by stretching the pectorals, and maintain neutral spine in the lower back. All these years I was just too ignorant to use them until Dr. Jolie said so!
3. I think it's 'cause their chest is too tight from rounded shoulders. Good pectoral stretching, and remembering to maintain good posture will correct.

It's that remembering thing that's the problem. Fortunately my back keeps reminding my brain to use what I've learned! :-D

BikaBill sent in these winning photos:


Nice bike, Bill!

If photos don't load, click

BikaBill continues:

"Thanks, again, especially for what I've learned from you. My back is getting much better and I don't need a doctor!!!"

I learned things from readers:
  1. Hopefully joking, were not one, but two surgeons who wrote that surgery is required to cut tight front (anterior) muscles.
  2. Readers think abdominal muscles do every motion of all your limbs whether they do or not.
  3. Readers think that somehow squeezing your abdominal muscles makes you move, and they think using one set of muscles magically makes you stop (inhibit) others. This is an often repeated bit of mythology, not true in all cases as previously thought. In fact, we couldn't move properly if it were true.
  4. Readers think abdominal muscles somehow stop you from rounding forward and make you sit straight if you just do something called "engage." I have no idea how or what that would be. Abdominal muscles are flexors (bend the spine forward - not the body as a whole). Fourth winner Mr. Georges Nakhlé, my Academy instructor and manager of the Middle Eastern division was one of the two entrants who knew that abdominal muscles do not straighten you from a rounded forward position. Your back muscles are needed to pull back enough to straighten you (only if you use them). He names them in the Hints. Abdominal muscles do not attach to your legs. They cannot pull your body closer to your leg (or leg closer to body) if you are sitting with your hip slouched back away from your leg.
  5. A helpful comment from Anonymous in Contest Hints enlightened me about a major source of the problem - readers honestly don't know what muscles do, and they feel like outsiders when hearing names of muscles and their actions. This is important. It opened a large door for me.
Thanks to these reader comments, I know to start writing articles explaining actual muscle use. No one should need any medical degree or training to know your body, names of parts, and how you move. Just like if you are not a mechanic, by knowing simple car parts, you can save much money and pain and being fooled by fancy sales talk.

Fifth winner was reader Sister Mary Smackham Witherstick of the Royal Order of Order,
"Quit yer sorry whining. Straighten up laddies!"
How hard was that?

Maybe our slogan for this contest could be the zombie cry from Return of the Living Dead,
"Brains Brains! Stops the Pain!"

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About the Author


Dr. Bookspan is an award-winning scientist whose goal is to make exercise easier and healthier.