All you have to do is, do exactly what your mother told you to do. SIT UP STRAIGHT! Sort of.
Stop slouching and get your elbows off the table was the essence of the good posture advice in my house growing up. But just because the message is simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy to do.
Just because you know HOW to do something, doesn’t mean you do it. Take weight loss for example. Most people know how to lose weight:
- Eat less
- Exercise more
If knowing what to do was the real problem, then noone would be overweight, but obesity rates have tripled in North America since the 1980’s. Clearing knowing what to do, isn’t enough.
My own experience studying posture for two decades, has taught me a lot. And one thing is certain – sitting up straight, doesn’t work! That is because there is one main issue, one totally overlooked key element to posture.
There – I’ve said it. Underneath that unattractive slouching posture, there is a bony spine. It’s as if we have somehow forgotten there is a spine and central nerve system, beneath the forward head, rounding shoulders and slouching thorax.
Think of your bony spine as a garden hose, and the water running through the hose like the nerves that run messages to and from your brain.
Prolonged sitting, low self esteem and past accidents and trauma can all change your spinal alignment and alter the ideal curves in your back. Altered spinal curves obstruct the communication between brain and body and this is how overall health is affected by posture.
So if poor posture is really all about the position of the spine, then how does that knowledge help you to improve your own posture? Simply knowing that slouching, having rounding shoulders, a flatback or swayback doesn’t do a lot to help you SIT UP STRAIGHT. Remember that knowing how to lose weight, doesn’t necessarily lead to weight loss.
and there is a very simple reason for that. Most people with bad posture have never really had their posture analysed and therefore go about improving their posture the wrong way.
Edie is 17 years old and has suffered chronic headaches and migraine since the age of 11. She has had brain scans, blood tests and allergy tests. She has taken her fair share of painkilling medication. When I carried out a Posture Analysis on Edie, it was immediately apparent that Edie held her head cocked to one side. When I pointed this out, she and her mother were shocked that they had never noticed. We took neck x-rays (to see her SPINE) and they confirmed what I had suspected – she had a significant reverse to the ideal curve in her neck (cervical kyphosis).
Edie’s x-rays (note the reversed neck curve-left and how her head is tilted to one side)
Edie told me, during her medical history that she had never had a trauma but when I pressed and explained that a reverse to the neck curve can only happen through trauma, she said: ‘Well there was actually one but I was only five.’ It turns out that Edie had fallen hard onto her back from a jungle gym at least ten feet high. It was as if a can of worms had been opened and Edie’s mother also recalled a traumatic labour with Edie where the cord was anchored around her neck.
Armed with new knowledge, I knew I could help Edie by designing a tailored program of correction specific to her posture and underlying SPINE issues.
Remember that chances are good that if you have been everywhere and tried everything with little change to your pain or posture, then you may have forgotten the most crucial part of how to improve your posture – your SPINE!