I’ve been grappling with this for years.
How do you stand tall?
There are so many reasons posture can go awry. It can be an emotional issue as well as a physical one.
If your feeling stress from family or work, if you spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, if you’ve been pregnant and had a large, heavy belly pulling your body forward, if you work a physically demanding job… all these things and more can lead to bad posture and pains in the body… stiff necks, headaches, painful backs, sore knees, off-kilter hips… more aches and pains than I can list here.
Don’t get stuck in the pain. Move the body instead.
When I began my better posture journey, I thought I could exercise, stretch, and relax my way to better posture.
Unfortunately this formula does not work.
Let’s talk about a better way to fix posture.
Check Your Posture
Take photographs of the side, front, and back of the body.
From the side view we should be able to draw a line that runs from ankle, to hip to shoulder to the ear, to the middle of the top of the head. The front and back of the body should be symmetrical.
We use the bones as markers, but it is the muscles that move the bones. We want the muscles to be doing the jobs they were meant to do. When some muscles grow weak, other muscles compensate, and that’s when our posture starts to become less than optimal.
How do we move the correct muscles?
We first need an honest assessment of the body. How is it compensating?
Start by looking at the pelvis. Is it tilted? Commonly, from sitting too long and lack of movement, the pelvis has an anterior tilt. Are the abdominals weak? Is the lower back compensating with a large inward curve? Then anterior tilt is likely. It could also be a posterior tilt. Is the lower back flattened? Does the upper back have an increased curve?
The position of the pelvis has a huge impact on the spine so its placement influences our posture.
The Three S’s: Sacrum, Scapula, Skull
Use a wall. With bent knees can you find the sacrum (very bottom of the spine), scapula (shoulder blades), and the back of the skull on the wall? This is the alignment the body craves.
Getting the body back into alignment takes strength, a mobilization of trapped fascia (tissues), and stretching. No quick fix. But fret not, because movement in the right direction will lessen any discomfort you may be experiencing due to bad posture.
Long Term Change
Let’s say you are moving everyday in healthy ways to re-align the pelvis and spine. Great!
What if your posture assessment photographs still do not show improvement?
If you want real change you need to be aware of your posture all day, every day, and every moment in between.
The muscles that move the bones and position them are controlled by the central nervous system (CNS), which means the brain is actually the one that needs retraining. We need to reset our posture throughout the day to override our automatic habits.
Key Steps to Change Posture
- Have an intention to change your posture.
- Assess your posture with photographs.
- Educate yourself about the proper exercises.
- Take action by exercising, mobilizing, and stretching.
- Watch and fix your posture throughout the day.
The journey to better posture can be transformational. As with anything worth while, it can be challenging. Know that the reward in the end is a healthy body. You live inside this vessel. Be kind to it.
The body is like a car. As it ages it needs tune-ups. There is nothing wrong with the car. It has simply been used to take you places. The body does the same.
Don’t forget: STAND TALL!
As Lara Heimann, founder of LYT Yoga says, “Posture f*ing matters!”
If you need some assistance, I’m here.