When I was a child, my father was a big proponent of good posture. We ate dinner together as a family every night and he expected my brother and I to sit up straight and keep our elbows off the table. Good posture became my normal. I remember at school and at my friend’s houses having adults comment on my good posture. It was not the normal I suppose with other kids my age. As a child, however, I felt that was a weird comment. I was not ‘trying’ or making an effort, I was sitting and standing in a way that felt natural to me. I had learned that posture and my body adopted it.
Fast-forward to today, I believe I still have pretty good posture. In my line of work, however, I see lots of poor posture and issues because of poor posture. My husband, a chiropractor, also sees poor posture and treats issues related to poor posture.
In its simplest form, posture is how we carry our body, how we sit or how we stand. Posture, however, if you look a little deeper is a great window into where our body is strong or weak. An evenly balanced, toned, healthy body will have good posture. A body with weak abdominals or shortened pectorals for example will have poor posture. Low back as wells as thoracic spine issues can be attributed to poor posture.
Our skeleton has a shape it would like to be in. Continually holding our skeleton against it’s natural shape, we develop asymmetrical muscles and tensions in our body. We develop a new ‘normal’ and over time this can lead to injury and chronic pain.
The good news is posture can be addressed and can be modified. We can find our normal again. Pilates is a wonderful way to improve posture. Pilates works to lengthen shortened muscles, build strength where we need it and improve balance in our bodies. You can not properly perform Pilates abdominal work while slouching! I often have new students tell me their posture is one of the first things they notice improving. When our bodies are aligned – our posture must follow suit and good posture is no longer work.
Another excellent way to work on posture is to sit on an exercise ball. It is pretty much impossible to have poor posture while balancing on an exercise ball! Not only will you work on your posture, you will also be toning muscles and working your core. I have an exercise ball I use at my desk (and I’m sitting on it now to type this blog!)
I’ve had a handful of students tell me they have noticed poor posture in their daughters. With teen and tweens, some times posture has to do with self esteem. Girls who grow earlier tend to slouch so as not to be taller than their girlfriends or boys. It is a good lesson to teach girls (and boys) to be proud, stand up tall and carry themselves with confidence. They may not be aware of their poor posture or realize that they are slouching. I am grateful to my Dad for instilling good posture in me. My husband and I remind our boys to sit up at the table, too. Their bodies are young and healthy and we want them to learn good posture now to keep them that way!