How To Correct Poor Posture – Slouching

HABIT –BREAKINGThe ELLE beauty team talked four colleagues into breaking their worst habits…

THE SLOUCHEROnline editor and features writer Jenna McArthur wanted to fix her poor posture and tried osteopathy by Dr Guy Ashburner on behalf of the osteopathic profession.

THE HABIT: I have begun to sit and stand incorrectly over the years and my work station in incorrectly set up. Sitting all day has caused insufficient flexibility and movement in my muscles and made them weak. The result? I slouch and hunch my shoulders, I hold my head and neck far too forward and my general posture is poor, causing neck and shoulder pain, and tightening the muscles in the middle of my back, where my slump is at its worst.

THE TREATMENT: Osteopathy is a ‘hands-on’ type of therapy offering a holistic experience. Dr Ashburner first examined my muscular structure in conjunction with my diet, posture and breathing before offering occupational advice on all fronts. The aim is to correct the damage by relaxing tense and congested muscles and joints, mobilising joints and improving muscle tone. The best part of the treatment is that each session feels like a 45-minute deep soft tissue massage and it took a lot of self-control not to drift off. The ultimate goal was to straighten my body and remove the tension that has built up over years of slumping. In order to align my bones and joints and make muscles more efficient, Dr Ashburner focused on manipulating my hip flexors, abdominal muscles, diaphragm and pectoral muscles that have shortened. He also used mobilising techniques to release the tension in my neck and back.

A CURE? The key to understanding osteopathy is to know that results are not achieved overnight. It is a lengthy process but after just three consultations I could feel a difference. I felt lighter and my muscles felt more supple and longer as the tension was released and my muscles were loosened during each session. But what you do about your bad habit at home or the office is as important and Dr Ashburner taught me simple and realistic exercises to do by myself. He also looked at my work station and explained the importance of consciously assuming and maintaining the correct posture until it becomes habit. The greatest revelation for me was realising that the benefits of a good posture are so much more than an absence of pain. I soon felt less tired and had less headaches, I managed stress better and had less tension-related pain. A good posture, osteopathy teaches, is a good habit that contributes to overall wellbeing.

THE ONE-TOO-MANY SOCIAL DRINKERPoppy Evans, our senior fashion editor, tried hypnotism to help her exercise a little more self-restraint when being social and visited the Marilyn Bradley Hypnotism Studio.

THE HABIT: I call it antisocial drinking. Although I’m not dependent on or addicted to alcohol, I find it very difficult to say no to ‘that second drink’ or to avoid alcohol completely and end up burning the candle at both ends. With a hectic schedule involving many after-hour work functions as well as a busy social life, I would like to limit my drinking to weekends – it’s just not healthy to be drinking almost every day!

THE TREATMENT: Marilyn Bradley, the therapist, began by explaining exactly what hypnotism is. She compared my normal state of consciousness to a sirloin steak and said that all she was going to do was to turn it into fillet. The bottom line is that it’s all steak. In other words it’s all me. When hypnotised, I would never actually ‘sleep’, nor would I do anything I wasn’t comfortable doing. For hypnotherapy to work, she explained, the person being treated needed to have a realistic goal, had to genuinely want to achieve that goal and also truly believe that he had been hypnotised. The therapy itself was nothing like I had expected it to be. It was a totally wonderful experience. I can honestly say I have never been more relaxed. Marilyn performed small tests on me throughout and only told me afterwards exactly what they were. This was to prove that I had indeed been in a hypnotic state. She also spoke to me throughout the therapy about the goal we had set together (that was realistic and one that I wanted to achieve), but I also went to a place where I was having conversations with myself about other things. She says this is the best part of hypnotism, that it lets you deal with your anxieties by accessing your gut feelings.

A CURE? To be fair, it was as a terrible week to attempt to cut back on drinking. The first week following my hypnosis I had a few big birthday parties. However, although I didn’t stick to my goal 100 percent, I felt more relaxed, comfortable and generally happier than I had in a long time, which I think impacted my drinking habits, too. I plan to go back to Marilyn on a regular basis. I cannot put into words how much I feel I have benefitted from the treatment, regardless of my drinking habits.

THE DETAILS: R600 per one-hour session. To make an appointment visit or call 021 801 1385.

THE NOT-SO-SECRET MIDNIGHT SNACKERKirsty Stoltz, ELLE’s Jo’burg senior fashion editor, went to see a dietician hoping to correct her midnight eating habits.

THE HABIT: I love food. Other than Prada’s spring/summer 2011 collection, it’s what I mostly think about. So when Lynette, our beauty editor, asked me if I had any secret habits that I needed to be free from, I knew I had just the thing. It would all play out quite innocently: I’d wake in the middle of the night with an incredible thirst, tip-toe to the kitchen, careful not to wake my boyfriend and the cats, and then basically eat anything I can get my hands on. Lately I have restricted the eating and ended up drinking lots of fruit juice – huge quantities of sugary fruit juice that aren’t doing me or my weight any favours.

THE TREATMENT: I made an appointment with Dr Lila Bruk and during our session we went through my eating habits. We discovered that I am eating way too many carbohydrates and not enough protein. Lila worked out a personalised eating plan for me and also sent me for blood tests as she suspected that my crazy midnight cravings may well be a symptom of hypoglycaemia.

A CURE? Well it turns out that my sugar and hormone levels fall into the normal range but my cholesterol level is a little high. I will therefore change my diet and have it checked again within the next two months. I suspect my cravings are probably a symptom of not eating enough and not drinking enough water during the day. A month into my new regime, when I wake up during the night, I drink some water and go back to bed. I want juice but I now know that my body doesn’t need it. The low-GI diet is relatively easy to follow and I feel calmer when I wake up.

THE DETAILS: Expect to pay around R450 for a first consultation with a dietician; to find Dr Bruk or a dietician in your area, go to the Association for Dietetics in South Africa’s website,

THE SMOKERErla Rabe, ELLE’s copy editor, attended and Allen Carr Easyway to Stop Smoking clinic; it is endorsed by CANSA.

THE HABIT: Although I’ve never been a heavy smoker – five or six a day were my limit – I have been smoking on and off for 27 years and have never really enjoyed it. I managed to stop on a few occasions; the longest I have lasted has been about 18 months. The pitfall, for me, is social occasions: I can go without a cigarette for days but put me among smokers and I immediately reach for a cigarette. There has been more cancer on my mother’s side of the family than I care to shake a stick at but I have only seriously wanted to quit since being diagnosed with type-I diabetes, which makes smoking even worse for your health, if such a thing is possible.

THE TREATMENT: I reported for the clinic at 8am along with about 15 other apprehensive smokers. Dr Charles Nel, who himself got rid a 40-a-day habit with Allen Carr’s method, first gave us a brief overview of advertisers’ ploys before starting the session in earnest. It is difficult to say what it entails without giving away any secrets but the gist of it is not to make wannabe non-smokers feel as if they are going to be depriving themselves of something they want. (We all know how difficult it is to stop thinking about chocolate once you’ve decided to shed a kilo or two.) The focus is on what you stand to gain and not to rationalise the process. If you don’t manage to quit after the initial session, you can attend two shorter follow-up sessions for free. Dr Nel also gave each of us his cell number in case anyone hit a road bump and needed a pep talk.

A CURE? It’s been five weeks and so far, so good. Oddly enough, I thought of having a cigarette at 11pm the night after the clinic, a time at which I usually never ever would have smoked. I dismissed the thought as soon as I had registered that it was curious and that was the end of that. I have also passed a test I had been dreading: a visit to my sister. Usually I would have been looking for a cigarette before I even sat down but this time I simply ignored the thought. I’m not sure if this is the message and method I was supposed to take from the workshop but it seems to work for me: don’t overthink it and, to quote Nancy Reagan, just say no. It’s amazing how quickly the desire for a cigarette disappears when I simply dismiss it. The clinic has also confirmed something that all smokers know: there is no such thing as a social or casual smoker. You either smoke or you don’t. And when you’ve stopped, that ‘just one’ cigarette will have you buying your own again in a matter of weeks.

THE DETAILS: R2 260 (R350 if you’re on Discovery Vitality). Visit or call 0861 100 200 to book; regular clinics are held in all major centres. If you want to try it, take my advice and get a good night’s sleep before you go; the six-hour session requires you to be focussed. Also take something warm as the venue is kept cold-ish to stop everyone from getting too cosy and dozy.

Source- Elle Magazine

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