Why should ten minutes of PowerPosture stretching should be a part of every pilot's daily routine? Because it will give you back your youthful, straight posture (and any height you have lost over the years), and reduce or cure the neck, shoulder, and back pain and fatigue problems which are so common in pilots!
Pilots in particular have neck, shoulder, and back problems because of the following factors:
- Tens of thousands of hours (over a career) seated in the cockpit, with many movements involving forward reaching or leaning, but very little backward reaching or leaning. The results are a gradual tightening, shortening, and weakening ("short weakness") of the chest and anterior shoulder muscles, and a lengthening and weakening ("long weakness") of the back muscles. These changes are reinvorced by most pilots' "normal, modern" generally sedentary lifestyle. The results are round-shouldered, forward head posture, and a loss of neck, shoulder, and chest mobility.
- No lifelong, regular exercises to specifically maintain posture and upper body flexibility.
- An overemphasis in most exercise programs on flexor movements like pushups, situps, and bench press which overdevelop anterior shoulder, chest, and abdominal muscles and thereby pull the head and shoulders forward and pull the ribcage downward. (A properly designed exercise or weight training program will straighten posture, not produce a "weight lifter's hunch". If you have been working out for more than a year and your posture isn't essentially perfect, your program is at fault.)
- Significant military fighter flying time under high-g loads, compressing the spine and chest, with no exercise program (like PowerPosture! ) to specifically counteract these effects. (See the presentation by Dr. John Christman to the 5th Annual Armed Services Recruit and Trainee Healthcare Symposium on "Specific Stretching and Strengthening Exercises to Improve the Load-Carrying Capacity of the Head and Upper Body", accessed from the home page of this website).
- Over time, forward head, round-shouldered posture produces the following muscular changes, which decrease physical capabilities, worsen appearance, and/or cause pain and fatigue problems:
- Neck ranges of motion, both left and right and upwards, decrease, and ease of movement decreases (of safety concern in all activities where head movement for all-around vigilance is necessary).
Chest and front of shoulder muscles shorten and tighten, which:
- Decreases potential chest power development
- Decreases endurance by increasing breathing work
- Decreases breathing depth, making it less efficient
- Pushes the ribcage down, which makes the stomach protrude and weakens it
- Upper back and back of shoulder muscles lengthen and loosen, which:
- Weakens them
- Makes them fatigue more easily
- Neck, back, and shoulder muscle loading increases, which:
- Makes those muscles work harder and fatigue quicker
- Overdevelops those muscles, adding unnecessary body weight
- Diverts oxygen from the working legs or arms, decreasing work or sport performance
- Makes upper back muscles and spine more injury prone
- Increases risk for temporomandibular (jaw) joint problems (forward head posture is a well-recognized cofactor in temporomandibular disorders).
- Increases the load on the cervical spine; when combined with the increased spinal injury susceptibility due to excessive forward curvature of the cervical spine with forward head posture, the potential for disc and nerve damage increases.
Lower spine curvature changes to compensate for the excessive forward curvature of the upper spine, which:
- Weakens and overloads the lower back
- Can cause chronic lower back pain
- Worsens existing lower back problems
- May alter pelvic position, which can reduce walking running efficiency
- Lung residual volume (the air remaining in your lungs after you have exhaled fully) Increases with a rounded upper back, decreasing breathing efficiency.
- The cumulative effects of forward head, hunched shoulders, sunken chest, excessively forward curved upper spine, altered curvature of lower spine, and altered pelvic positions:
- Reduce overall biomechanical efficiency and hinder proper function of most organs, which reduces overall physical performance
- May increase injury risk because of decreased loadbearing abilities
- Cause height loss of more than 2 inches
- Makes one look stooped, saggy, and "old", which hurts self-perception and confidence, and does not convey confidence, competence, vigor, energy, or athleticism
The potential costs and risks of these problems to anyone are many. Obviously, neck, shoulder, and back pain and fatigue reduce job enjoyment and can cost money and time for medical treatments (including massage and chiropractic), which usually do not cure the problems, but only treat the symptoms. (The PowerPosture program addresses the underlying biophysical causes of the problems, so it is a curative program). Poor posture and its associated muscle inflexibilities and weaknesses also reduce your physical performance capacity, and contribute to your loss of physical performance capacity with age. Plus, poor posture simply makes you look old and less healthy, energetic, vigorous, competent, and confident!
But in pilots, there are additional safety concerns. Pain and fatigue affect judgment and reduce mental vigilance. And poor posture combined with poor neck and upper body flexibility reduce physical vigilance by reducing rotational and up and down head range of motion and by reducing ease of movement.
As a pilot, given this extensive list of potential posture-related problems, would it be worth spending just 10 minutes a day doing some simple exercises which are guaranteed to:
- Reestablish normal, straight, confident, and youthful-looking posture;
- Reestablish normal flexibility and range of motion in your neck, shoulders, and back; and
- Enable those body parts to be no more tired at day's end than the rest of your body?
If you answered "Yes, it would be worth it", then you need the PowerPosture program!
If you do not currently have pain and fatigue problems, you would still benefit from doing the PowerPosture program if your relaxed, normal, standing posture does not match all of the following criteria:
- From the side, your earlobe should be on a plumb line over your shoulders and hip joint.
- Your shoulders should be back and down (not shrugged or rolled forward), your upper back relatively flat (not curved forward), and your chest curved outward (not flat or sunken in between your shoulders).
- Your collar bones should be level or sloping only slightly upwards.
- Looking from the front, the lower edge of your chin should be 3 or more inches above the outer tips of the collar bones.
- You should be able maintain this posture at all times, "automatically", without thinking, whether sitting, standing, walking, or running.
If your posture does not match these criteria, the reasons why you will benefit from improving your posture and flexibility (even if you are currently painfree) are:
- You will eventually have neck, shoulder, and/or back pain and fatigue problems, and possibly more serious degenerative injuries, as the result of the excessive loads produced by poor posture.
- You will never perform up to your physical potential, at any age, with poor posture. The muscle flexibilities, ranges of motion, and strengths which produce good posture also result in maximum speed, strength, and endurance. Virtually all world-class athletes in sports where high level physical work output is necessary, from ultraendurance athletes to power weight lifters, have muscle strengths and flexibilities which produce constant proper posture.
To minimize your loss of physical capabilities with age, proper posture and flexibility must be maintained, and they can be! There is no medical research evidence that, in the absence of disease, posture or flexibility have to get worse with age.
You may be tempted to try to reestablish your good posture by "just thinking about it and doing it", without using PowerPosture. But you cannot think about posture all the time, and the moment you stop thinking about it, your existing muscle balances will pull you back into poor posture. Plus, reestablishing good posture alone will not correct the losses of range of motion and flexibility resulting from years of poor posture. The only time-effective, assured cure for forward head posture and its associated muscular changes is active exercise intervention, as with PowerPosture.
Remember that the PowerPosture program is guaranteed to produce a visible change in your appearance and/or a change in your pain and fatigue within 60 days, if you do the program for just 10 minutes every other day. But in almost 2 years on the market, no one has ever asked for a refund because of lack of results! So if you want better posture or less upper body pain and fatigue, PowerPosture will give you the knowledge to accomplish those goals!
Life is short! Do your best, and look and feel as good as you can with PowerPosture!