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Have You Thought Of Your Posture Lately?

post #1 of 16
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Cooking for One: Good posture saves wear, tear on cook
Thursday, January 10, 2002

By Marlene Parrish


Instructor to student: "Concentrate on what you are about to do, and visualize the result of your effort. First, take your stance. Stand erect with the feet slightly apart and the knees flexed. Feel relaxed as you approach the ball."

No, not a golf ball. A ball of dough. Or a pot or skillet.

Good posture and disciplined form play as much a role in good cooking as they do in golf, tennis or skiing. Teaching pros in sports make good money chiding students to shift weight here, follow through there, step into the shot, use the whole body. If they follow those directions, golfers don't flail at the ball, tennis players don't step away from the shot and skiers don't simply aim their feet straight downhill.

I bet some home cooks who complain that they don't feel comfortable in the kitchen or don't like to cook might find that things go easier with some coaching. As my dancer friend Perry always says, "It ain't whatcha do, it's the way hotcha do it."

So here's a foodless cooking lesson, with emphasis on efficient body motion. You solo cooks can benefit from your time alone in the kitchen to think about some of these things. Couldn't hurt, could it?

Because architects design kitchens for the nonexistent average person, the rest of us have to make do with counters that are too high or too low. Short people -- and I think we're the majority -- can save strain on the shoulders and elbows by keeping a small kick-stool in the kitchen. When I have to peer into that stew pot on a back burner, I gain a few inches from that stool. The stool also adjusts your height when you need arm pressure to roll out pastry on a high counter.

Do you stir overhand or underhand? Say you're making risotto, a 30-minute stirring process in a deep saucepan. If you stir overhand, thumb pointing south, with your elbow in the air and your arm at right angles to your body, your arm will get mighty tired. But if you stir underhand, thumb pointing north and the upper arm parallel to the body, the arm works efficiently and won't tire quickly. Compare over- and underhand stirring and beating of cookie dough, too.

Prissy wrist-stirring in a small circular motion won't always cut it. Stirring pancake batter with a flippy, wristy motion is one thing, but if you're stirring cream puff dough or other heavy batter, you have to get your whole, almost straightened arm into the process. Do that by "lowering the counter." Put the bowl of dough on a stool, on a chair or even in the sink. Then originate the stir from your shoulder using your whole arm and see how much easier it is.

Kneading bread dough isn't about wrist and arm motion; the whole body needs to get into the act. Try this: Face the counter and place one foot slightly ahead of the other. As you knead, your whole body should rock back and forth, your weight shifting forward and back from one foot to the other. The secondary motion is the kneading and pushing motions of the hands.

Move the food, not the cook. When you flute a pie crust, keep the hands between 2 o'clock and 4 o'clock to make the decorative pinching. Then give the pie a twist and continue fluting. Don't try to cut things, such as potatoes and apples, in midair; cut on a board. When flipping pancakes, flip from the outside in -- that is, a right-handed person will lift and flip the pancake towards the left, not palm up towards the right as if she were thumbing a ride.

There are sports-like hints for good form in the kitchen. Improve your knife skills with a shortened grip. Wear the right shoes. As in sports, the key to a good game is knowing what to do. Practice, practice, practice. And watch your posture.
When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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When I get a little money, I buy books. And if there is any left over, I buy food.

- Desiderius Erasmus
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post #2 of 16
WOuld you believe they teach us didly squat about posture in cooking school? Good article Isa. Thanks!
post #3 of 16

Thank god for dance

My oldest daughter is quite the dancer, In fact she has a big show this weekend in Manhatten....But it's her posture, perfect, Long lines and defined stature. This is taught in dance and I believe it carries over to your everyday life.

My Mom who is 75 still has the posture of a 20 year old (god bless her)

Just a quick note, I never stand flat footed when prepping I always find something to raise a foot on to shift the balance
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #4 of 16
CC, I heard that could be bad, namely for your hips because it pushes them over the threashold of acceptable pressure. Leaning on anything (including hips) is apparently bad for you...

I don't know what to think...

Being a ballerina never prepared me for 12 hours of continuous standing inthe kitchen and I find my lower back gets pretty tired at the end of the day. Regular stretching helps and bending my knees (like doing small squats while I'm working) helps too.

CC, have you ever had posture related injuries? Maybe I should try it your way...

PS: let us know how the show goes... I'm so happy you have a little dancer in the family.. ;)
post #5 of 16
I never had a problem with my posture, and I have worked long enough in kitchens to recommend "the foot up" concept
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #6 of 16
Well then! I must try it. Will let you know.

Funny, I've always resisted the urge to do it. I'll succumb to it instead and see if it works...
post #7 of 16
The foot-up thing really does work. I like it very much.

My posture is good, but it's from singing- proper posture is imperative for vocal studies as well as dance! :)
If you don't ask, you'll never know.
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If you don't ask, you'll never know.
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post #8 of 16
Now I guess I just have to work on my golf game...:D


Hey, CC, didn't anyone ever point out that hunchback of yours?:lol:

But seriously, that was a good article.
post #9 of 16

Posture

What's helped my posture the most is weightlifting. It forces me to tighten the abdominals which causes a reduction in stooping and reduces the lumbar lordosis, that is, the forward curve in the low back. Also, taking a modern jazz dance class helps to increase flexibility and also tightens the abs.:bounce: :bounce: :bounce:

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
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post #10 of 16

Very Funny Michelle

Ha, Ha, ha!!!:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #11 of 16
great post, Isa, something for all of us to keep on file! Especially those of us with 'creaky armor syndrome'!

I wear the Dansko closed clogs, and have gotten so used to them I can't wear anything else in the kitchen - or anywhere else - plus they make me a little taller! Seriously, they're great for posture, and the only shoe I've found - even ordering 'chef sneakers with special non-slip soles' from catalogs - that won't slip on a wet floor - or road - or sidewalk.
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post #12 of 16
Marmalady,

I also swear by dansko clogs!!
Best kitchen shoe I have ever worn.
I also like the fact that I feel a wee bit taller :)
cc
Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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Baruch ben Rueven / Chanaבראד, ילד של ריימונד והאלאן
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post #13 of 16

Mad about fitness

This was a great article Isa.

I hope, you, my hard working friends, take your posture seriously and I hope you spent sometime exercising.

Kokopuffs is right. Abdominals are the muscles who keep your posture!! Try to work your side adbominals either . yes!! You have those too.

And especially chefs should workout their feet.
Use a boxing sac too. This will save you from doctors, shrinks even...lawyers ;)
And from time to time in order check how strong is your torso is, grab a hanging boxing sac with your feet and try to lift your torso. If you can, you are in a great shape!!
I can talk about exercise for hours :)
"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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"Muabet de Turko,kama de Grego i komer de Djidio", old sefardic proverb ( Three things worth in life: the gossip of the Turk , the bed of the Greek and the food of the Jew)
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post #14 of 16

FYI: Oblique Muscles

Atheneus, those "side abdominals" are called the oblique muscles. There are two sets: the internal and the external obliques.

Also, do crunches where you bend just enough to lift the shoulder blades (aka scapulae) off of the floor. DO NOT DO TRADITIONAL SIT UPS. They'll aggravate the lumbar lordosis giving you a swayback, like an old nag.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
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Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
post #15 of 16
Glad I found this post Isa! Thanks for the step-stool tip. Im only 5 foot 2 you know and my counters hit me at the middle of my rib cage. Darn hard on the feet going on tippy toe to peer into a stock pot! I guess Im gonna be investing in some dansko clogs since they seem to be working so well for everyone.

CC is right about the foot up thing though. I did alot of standing during cooking class in my country (cooking is a required for girls and you start at age 6 and end at 15 at school). If you think about it putting a foot up actually straightens your lower back so it doesn't curve forward. Plus it takes loads of stress off that area.

Just my two cents!

Jodi
Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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Jodi


I don't know about you but I think I need a nap.
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post #16 of 16
Putting one foot up, that is, on a support, relaxes the ILIOPSOAS muscle which is responsible for extension at the lower lumbar region.

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply

Best and I'm a foodie.   I know very little but the little that I know I want to know very well.

 

-T

Brot und Wein
(1 photos)
 
Reply
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