Thursday, 4 December 2014

On 18:12 by Victoria Stanham in , ,    No comments

Most sports and art forms have an “ideal posture” to practice them. Books and articles on them will describe this ideal posture, and sometimes offer muscular exercises that will help you achieve it.

However, if visually identifying what we need to change and doing muscles exercises to correct deviations from perfect form were enough, we’d all have good posture and no one would have back pain from bad postural habits.

This visual and muscular take on posture presents 3 problems.

Firstly, it assumes that he who receives the instructions knows his own body (has a clear body map) and can adopt the recommended posture without undue tension.

Secondly, it assumes that he who gives instruction and he who receives it, both interpret the concepts in the same way. Truth is we all have our own conceptual and sensorial definitions of our different body parts (“the neck” might not be exactly the same in my body map as in yours).

Thirdly, it assumes that we have to “work our postural muscles” with specific exercises, otherwise we’re bound to “go downhill” with gravity and age.* 
This view does not recognize that it is our heritage as homo sapiens sapiens to be proudly erect without undue effort if we do not interfere with the postural reflexes of our elegant design.

If instead we adopt the view that nature made us upright bipeds, and did so quite satisfactorily, then we shouldn’t so much “learn” to stand upright as “un-learn” to stand crookedly.

As homo sapiens sapiens we’re inheritors of a basic “software” that enables us to stand on our two feet in easy balance. This “software” is made up of a set of reflexes that we integrate, with greater or lesser success, during our early development. Since we all have the software, perhaps all we need is a little re-programming.

Hence, the best way to work on your posture is first to recognize what you must “stop doing.”

We must go to the deeper causes, to what is under the surface and cannot be seen with the naked eye. Self-knowledge is at the base of good posture.


* I don’t mean by this that you should not do exercise to correct muscle weaknesses that go hand in hand with bad posture and lack of joint mobility. What I do encourage you to do is to work those muscles ‘functionally’ and considering your body as a whole unit. You should be conscious of the balance and integration of your whole body during movement, and not just work the “weak muscles” in isolation.

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