"Flat" backs and "round" backs are two conditions which are so common that they are rarely defined as defects, their possessors being merely noted for their "bad figures." By physical culture they are often amenable to considerable rectification. As general treatment, the acquirement of the upright position remedies both these conditions.
The heels should touch lightly the door or wall, and the shoulders and lower part of the back should be against it. Take a deep breath, and stand still and firm; push the head gradually back till the crown is flat against the wall. Note how the waist muscles lengthen, how the abdominal walls tighten, and are drawn inwards, how the chest is raised and the shoulders thrown back. Keep this position, but bring the head back to its natural place, with the chin held slightly upwards and inwards.
The attitude to assume and retain while standing and walking has thus been produced, and, until it becomes an easy, graceful, and unconsciously maintained posture, the "wall position" should be repeated as a routine exercise on rising in the morning and on each completion of the toilet. As a test of perfection, as well as an exercise in maintaining the desired position, a small cushion or book should be placed on the crown of the head and balanced there while standing or walking about the room. The women of different nations who carry urns of water and bales of goods on their heads are renowned for their grace and upright carriage.
In order to practise howto stand correctly, place the back against a wall, take a deep breath, pushing the head gradually back till the crown is flat against the wall. Bring the head back to its natural position.
The Co-relation of Attitudes and Mental States
A great and continued sense of depression is almost impossible while the upright attitude is maintained. Indeed, the onset of sudden grief or a great shock, coming, as they do, unawares, often result in the victim becoming immediately "bowed down with sorrow." At that moment the shoulder muscles become relaxed, the ribs are depressed, and the chest flattened; the breathing powers are lessened and the vitality consequently lowered. The abdominal walls, too, are relaxed, and the organs within are crowded together and unsupported. Such a condition is chronic among the bulk of womankind, with the result that trifles worry them, anxiety haunts them, and frowns and wrinkles disfigure and age them. Their power of resisting depression is lost, molehills become mountains, and nobody is benefited save the doctor and the chemist.
" Round," and "Flat" Back
The "round" back is an everyday deformity commonly seen in children, and largely the result of strained and awkward positions adopted when at study. It is also seen in adults, especially those given to desk work and to much poring over books. The upright position, as already explained, will remedy it to a great extent, but there is a special treatment, and one that will improve the condition of nearly everyone's spine. Weather permitting, it should be done near a wide-open window, preferably in the morning and at bedtime while in night attire.
Assume the upright position. Place the back of the right hand against the spine, lodging it between the shoulders. Place it as high and keep it as central as possible. Assist it into position, if necessary, by pushing the elbow with the left hand. Then remove the right hand and apply the left hand, and repeat alternately for ten minutes,
How to stand. This diagram illustrates the perfect poise each time pushing the shoulders as far back as possible. If the back is stiff or weak, and the treatment is applied to the bare body, great benefit will be experienced by having a little almond oil on the backs of the hands, and rubbing with it as much of the upper part of the spine as can be reached. The "flat" back must be viewed rather as a case of arrested development, and can be considerably improved by any of the spinal exercises here given
To Straighten a Slightly Crooked Spine
Spinal curvature needs special treatment under an expert physical culturist or an osteopath, but slight curvature may be overcome by the following exercise, valuable also as a breathing exercise, and for gaining or retaining a youthful lissomeness of the back. Stand erect, arms hanging at sides, feet bare, body free of bands or straps of any kind, lips closed. Inhale-, stretch, and raise the arms outwards and upwards till the fingers point to the ceiling with palms facing one another. Turn the palms to face the wall in front, and begin to exhale as the stretched arms are carried straight downwards till the fingers touch the toes, while the knees are kept stiff, and the spine rounds downwards. Inhale on rising slowly with arms stretching upwards, and exhale on bending arms and elbows and bringing them to sides.