Posture Myths Busted: Revealing the Truth
The way we hold our bodies, also known as our posture, plays a vital role in our lives. It intersects our health and wellbeing at many points; impacting our biologic systems and nervous system, as well as we are perceived by others.
It’s without a doubt an important part of our physical and mental health but a lot of times we don’t know how to adopt a good posture. As soon as I walk into a room to present a workshop and introduce myself as a posture specialist, people suck their bellies in, throw back their shoulders, and become rigid. This type of posture can lead to fatigue and isn’t sustainable.
There are numerous myths and misconceptions surrounding posture. To understand proper posture, it is necessary to debunk these myths and misconceptions. Let’s dive into top five posture myths my clients often believe.
Sit and Stand as Straight as Possible
Proper posture doesn’t mean mimicking a soldier’s stance. This rigid posture can lead to muscle tension and fatigue overtime. Our spine is not rigid and straight. It has three distinctive curves, the inward cervical curve, the outward thoracic curve, and the inward lumbar curve.
It’s important to recognize that a proper posture should support these natural curves of our spine.
We all have unique bodies, with wide or narrow hips and flexible or tight muscles. Proper posture is the natural alignment, which is different for different individuals. There are some general guidelines to follow like head aligned over the spine, shoulders soft, and aligned over hips but they don’t look the same for everyone. When it comes to adopting proper posture, comfort and individuality is key.
Holding Still is Key
Many people believe, forcing our body to stay in one position, which is considered an ideal position, will, over time, improve their posture. Honestly, reverse is true.
The main reason for muscle imbalances is holding our bodies in the hunched over deskbound posture for a long period of time. Whenever a client complains of pain in a certain region, it’s because they are holding a certain stance for extended period without moving.
Our bodies are built to move. To find your natural posture and avoid imbalances we need to move often. It might be taking more frequent bathroom breaks, switching position from seated to standing, and going for short leisurely walks. Our body and spine crave motion, which leads to proper posture.
Standing Desk Will be The Fix it All
Standing desks are a great way to improve posture but they are not a fix it all. It’s best to change your positions often. That means taking a break from standing as well.
I see many clients who have standing desks but have no relief of back, neck or shoulder pain.
I’m a big proponent of standing desks as they allow breaking your work hours between sitting and standing. But standing all day can lead to muscle tension and posture dysfunction if done for a long time. Standing in one position can lead to plantar fasciitis, vascular issues, and pelvic shift on your dominant side to name a few issues.
The key lies in switching positions from time to time.
My Bad Posture Is Genetic
There are genetic posture issues, but they are not as common as we’d like to believe. Having a genetic posture anomaly doesn’t mean that you can’t work on it.
Did you know that Usain bolt has scoliosis? Scoliosis is a genetic disorder which causes an abnormal sideways curve of the spine. Scoliosis most often limits people’s life with the only hope that a spinal surgery would cure it. It didn’t limit Bolt. He used the knowledge of his condition as a power. He says he keeps his core and back strong, the scoliosis doesn’t really bother him.
If the fastest man on earth with a genetic postural anomaly can break world records by making changes in his life, then so can you. There are many exercises that can be done to make having good posture easier. Once you are fix your muscle imbalances and good posture will become an easy habit to adopt for you.
Posture Dysfunction Can be Fixed Overnight
Posture isn’t something that we develop in a short period of time. Instead, the posture we hold today was developed gradually overtime due to our work habits and emotional state.
Finding your natural posture takes time. Although it’s tempting to believe in quick fixes, like wearing a back brace but that’s not true. Reverting to your natural posture requires correct assessment, care, and consistent action.
We need to unlearn the old neural patterns and develop new ones for our muscles and ligaments to adopt the new position. This can be accomplished by exercises, stretches, and lifestyle adjustments. Checkout my fifteen minutes a day posture program in my book Unhunched: Discover Wellness Through Posture.
While it’s not uncommon for these myths to be believed by many, it’s important to note that most of them are simply exaggerations of the truth. The key takeaway here is that your posture should ultimately feel comfortable, rather than strained and rigid. If you’ve tried to improve your posture but continue to experience discomfort or pain, it may be beneficial to seek guidance from a skilled movement specialist who can provide personalized assistance.