Number one: You have to be fit to have good posture.
One common posture complaint that I hear a lot is “I’m not in good enough shape to have good posture”. The truth is that your level of fitness doesn’t have anything to do with weather good posture is available to you or not. As a matter of fact you want to have healthy posture BEFORE you make an effort to get fit or you are label to hurt yourself badly. Lot’s of super fit people have great posture that’s built on stress, strain and rigidity. It can hobble you in the end, thus many a great athlete instead of being on a wheaties box has ended up working at Target. Healthy posture allows you to move with the right muscles and leave the muscles that aren’t needed alone, so they can retain energy for later when they are needed. That way you can go running instead of sitting on the couch after work. With poor posture you can over use the wrong muscles for the wrong tasks eating up energy and leaving the body vulnerable to injury.
Number two: Good posture is straight posture
You are at your desk slumped over your key board and you sit up straight when you notice it. This is probably the advice your mother gave you and although she was doing the best she could it was still advice that’s not quiet right. It comes from the belief that your posture needs to be static and in reality we are meant to move, we don’t really have a posture problem we have a sedentary life style problem, even if you are sitting its better to move around, it’s best to get up and walk somewhere ever so often but just moving where you are sitting is good, change your posture, move around, have fun and make sure to breath, straight uptight posture makes respiration difficult.
Number three: Posture problems are actually a form of collective body dysmorphia
Wile training to be a teacher of the Alexander Technique I learned a lot about what we called false sensory perception, I experience it as a cognitive dissidence between what I think my body is doing what it’s actually doing and what it needs to be doing. An easier demonstration of this is to put your hands on your waste, you know where it is right? It’s somewhere below your ribs and above your hips, right? NO, it’s not, it never existed! Clothing manufacturers made it up to sell you pants, and we as a society bought it. Unfortunately for our spines we tend to think of it as an actual thing, most people bend move and lift things from the “waist” using it as a weight bearing joint, and it’s just not, and it’s a problem. This mythic waste has made trillions of dollars for the back pain industry, at least somewhere someone is happy right?
What really causes poor posture?
Most conventional thinking around the subject has it not only wrong but is making it worse. Google posture and you will see a list of things that claim to fix, correct and maintain perfect posture. There is a word in Sanskrit, if you are a yoga person you may have heard it, Sankocha, or a constant chronic tension caused from needing things to be in order or to have them be right. The first thing I need to do when I work with people is address their need to habitually fix things, this state of mind where you automatically tense up to make things right to constantly pull yourself together actually is the cause of habitual tension, and thus unhealthy posture habits. Stress itself isn’t bad it’s how we have learned to respond to it. Sankocha is never letting go even when you are laying down you are held together for fear you might turn into jello.
The One Thing You Can Do Now: Look UP!!
Welcome to Jello: No really just let your shoulders fall quit using them to hold up the world, take a breath smile a little and look up. This is best done at first wile walking, you may think you are going to trip or step in poop but the truth is you can see pretty far out in front of you, looking at the ground has you sinking into the ground, if you are at your dest every once in a wile look up, notice your co workers the flower arrangements that your secretary put together. Take moment to start noticing things around you. That’s it, kind of weird, but yeah my students are usually shocked at how familiar they are with the sidewalk and it can be really freeing to see the world around you. Once again remember to play around and have fun.
Sara James is an Alexander Teacher and an expert at teaching people posture habits that work in everyday life. Do you want to learn more about how you can be your authentic self? just ask she is more than happy to talk.