Myth busted: What is the "correct" posture?Jun 22, 2022
5 min read
I have something for you that will change your whole perception of "posture". Drum rolls please….
Here we go…
There is NO correct posture.
Your head must be buzzing with questions or trying to understand how that can be, so I will explain everything.
The concept of "posture" is static. "Posture" is defined as a position that our body assumes, where our back is "straight" and we are balanced well. It is understood as a static position that you need to keep. And if you don't keep it, you will get a "bad posture".
But why do we need to "hold" this so-called "correct" posture? How does that help us in our daily lives? What is really the way to improve movement and function? No one really tries to answer these questions (we will answer them over the course of the next weeks).
And here is what the issue with the idea of a static posture - we are simply not static. We are not a house or wall or chair that can stay in one place for hours, days and weeks on end without moving. Our bodies, as for all animals, are dynamic. They are made to move and in fact, stopping their movement brings tension and is quite tough to do.
Let's try this together (you can also use the audio to have a guided exercise, go to minute….):
- Stand up and focus on your body. If you are sitting down this is not going to work. You can close your eyes to focus easier if you like.
- Notice your body. Are you completely still or do you feel very small, almost impossible to notice, movements? Maybe you feel a little sway, with your weight shifting side to side or front to back?
- Now, engage your muscles so you stop all movement (you can still breathe). Your body is completely still, your arms are not moving at all, you are completely frozen. From the top of your head to the little toe, everything is completely still. How does that feel? Can you do this for hours? Do you feel tension building up?
- Now, let go of the stillness and allow for the body to relax. Notice the little sway and micromovements coming back to your body. How does that feel? Do you notice a difference?
- Relax and come back.
Did you notice how much strength you needed to keep your body completely still for even just a few seconds? This is because our body is in constant motion, constantly rebalancing itself and realigning. Our bodies are made to move, not to sit.
The combination of micromovements you noticed in your body is called "postural sway". It saves our bodies (joints, muscles, bones, etc) from being overused. It essentially constantly redistributes our weight in a way that no ligament, joint, muscle or bone ever gets overused. Something that we usually ruin with sitting for too long, or contracting our shoulders so we can write easier on the computer.
You probably sometimes feel that your back hurts or shoulders are tense and intuitively feel it is your posture that causes it. And you are probably correct! However, it is not the type of posture per say that causes the issue. It is actually the amount of time you spend in that posture. As our bodies are made to move, we are not supposed to get stuck into a certain position for too long, because otherwise we "freeze" in it, which then causes postural concerns, tension and pain.
So bad posture is not the cause of your problems. It is the result of your habits.
Therefore, in order to get rid of your discomfort you need to change your habits.
This is where the idea of "dynamic posture" comes in. This is a concept that is really well explained by Eric Franklin, who has published many books on the topic of functional anatomy, movement and dynamic neurocognitive imagery. The method that he has created, known as the Franklin Method®, is what I often talk about and teach in class.
And finally, all of our bodies are very different and because of that, our anatomical posture is different. In fact, your posture and movement range differs every day, depending on what you did the day before. So, instead of focusing on fitting into the sleeve of the perfect posture, try to find your own ideal balance point and work from there. It is additionally important to improve your muscle strength and joint range through exercises, which will with time make it easier to achieve better balance and movement. And this, in turn, will give you a more balanced use of your body that will have no cause for tension.
I will leave you with one of my favourite quotes on posture:
"The best posture is the next posture".
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