When you think about posture, what comes up? What were you told about how to have ‘good’ posture?
I hear a lot of folks talking about the pain they get from a day or week’s worth of ‘bad posture’ during their daily activities. Many of us believe that sitting more upright and pulling our shoulders back will ‘fix’ our posture and therefore the pain.
There’s actually no evidence to show that ‘good posture’ can prevent pain. Trying to sit upright and pull our shoulders back tends to require a lot of muscular exertion, making us more tired and potentially even creating fresh pain patterns or exacerbating old ones.
There’s something beautiful on the other side of unpacking these misconceptions.
It’s about movement. Animal bodies orient their structures for movement. We survive and thrive by moving towards nourishment and away from danger. Movement is source and location of expression and even thinking.
When we stay in one position for a long period of time, gravity starts to have its way on our tissues. Our muscles are in constant real-time adaptation to the needs of our lived experience, redirecting energy where it’s needed. Repeating the same movements and staying in the same positions, our muscles might start to forget their other options.
The position itself is not a problem. Instead, it’s about the lack of variability, and the tension levels present.
Practices that prioritize three-dimensional movement can remind our tissues what their postural options are. Often, folks leave Pilates and Franklin Method classes saying “oh, I feel really tall and open but I’m not working hard or forcing it – it’s just happening!”
What can you do in your daily life? Add some novel movements in. Arch your back, spiral your spine, wiggle around a little bit. You might find it also invites you to stay present with your bodily sensations, developing a more nuanced connection to sites of tension and where they come from.