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How To Get And Keep A Good Figure

Source: A Handbook Of Health

Erect Position is the Result of Vigorous Health. Naturally and
properly, an erect, graceful figure and a good carriage have always been
keenly desired; and much attention has been paid to the best means of
acquiring them; as we say, we try to get the habit of carrying
ourselves straight and well. But it must be remembered that an erect
figure and a good carriage are the results of health and vigor, rather
than the cause of them.

Stooping, round shoulders, sitting all hunched up, or a shuffling
gait, are owing partly to bad habits, or slouchiness, but chiefly to
weak muscles and a badly-fed nervous system, often due to a poor
digestion and a weak circulation. If a child is not healthy and
vigorous, then no amount of drilling or reminders to sit straight and
stand erect will make him do so.

It is of great importance that the child should take an erect and
correct position for reading and writing, and while sitting at his desk;
and that the desk and the seat should fit him. But it is more important
that he should not sit at his desk in a stuffy room long enough to be
harmed by a cramped position.

There are few children who will hump over at their desks, if the
muscles of their backs and necks are strong and vigorous, and their
brains well ventilated. Nor will many of them bore their noses into
their books, or sprawl all over their copy books when they write, unless
the light is poor, or they have some defect of the eyes which has not
been corrected by proper glasses. A bad position or a bad carriage in a
child is a sign of ill health, and should be treated by the removal of
its cause.

Curvatures--Their Cause and Cure. There are various forms of
curvatures, or bendings, of the spine which are supposed to be owing to
faulty positions of sitting or of carrying the body. There is wide
difference of opinions as to their cause; but this all are agreed on,
that they practically never occur in sturdy, well-grown, active
children; and the way that they are now corrected is by careful systems
of balancing, muscular exercise, open-air life, and abundant feeding,
instead of using steel braces, or jackets, or schoolroom drills.

Much the same is true of other deformities and defects of the body, as,
for instance, round shoulders, or flat-foot, or even such serious ones
as club-foot and bow-legs. Nearly all these are caused by the
weakness or wrong action of some muscle, or groups of muscles. If this
be long continued or neglected, the bones--which, you will remember,
were made by the muscles in the first place--will be warped out of
shape. When this has occurred, it is often necessary to bring back the
limb, or foot, into a nearly straight position by mechanical or surgical
means; but we now largely depend upon muscular exercises combined with
rubbing and massage with the hand, and on building up the general vigor
of the entire body, so that the muscles will pull the limb or the
backbone back into proper position. Take care of the muscles, and the
bones will take care of themselves! Make the body strong, vigorous, and
happy, and it will hold and carry itself.

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