Gravity takes its hold—even on posture.
Story: Rita Rivera
When someone considers taking responsibility for their life, some of their most common thoughts revolve around finances, diet, and exercise.
Preventively, we visit the dentist twice a year to have our teeth cleaned. We frequently change the oil in our car to keep it running well. However, most people will underestimate the importance of taking care of their posture—until they have pain and begin to suffer from chronic back and/or neck issues.
Have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in a mirror or a reflective window and noticed that you are hunched and find yourself straightening your spine a bit?
We sit and stand throughout the day. We are engaged in activities for work and leisure. The question becomes how well are we sitting and how well are we standing? Even poor habits in how we walk will impact the health of our posture. Take a moment and ask yourself, how conscious are you about your posture?
The way we sit, stand, and walk can move toward compression and strain or support us in balance and ease. The dynamics of our posture will impact how we breathe, how our nervous system functions, and the health and balance of our muscular skeletal system.
We sit for many hours during the day: driving, spending long hours in front of the computer, and cellphone use. We perform countless repetitive actions, including picking up infants and children, practicing a sport, gardening, cooking—even how you play an instrument affects posture.
As a posture coach and teacher of the Alexander Technique, I recognize that the majority of clients I see have developed poor posture. If one is unconscious of their posture, the body’s tendency is to follow gravity, pull down, and move toward compression. I have seen how poor posture builds stresses that eventually lead to cycles of discomfort and pain.
The secret of having great posture is to build awareness that will counter the effects of gravity.
The secret is building awareness of how we sit, stand, and use ourselves in activities.
The secret is to move away from being unconscious and learn simple tools and techniques that will guide you in building awareness.
WITH AWARENESS, YOU HAVE CHOICE!
Below are examples taken from the Your Brilliant Back 28-Day Posture Challenge. These simple principles can guide you in beginning to bring awareness to your use, then create subtle shifts in your posture.
When seated, check the way you are balanced on the “sit bones” of the pelvis. Take a moment to try this:
- Have a seat on a firm surface, not a soft cushiony chair.
- Bring your sit bones to the edge of the chair with your back unsupported.
- Bring your attention to how you are balanced on the sit bones.
- Is there equal distribution of weight on both sit bones or are you favoring one side?
- Ideally, you want to have your weight evenly balanced on both the right and left sit bones.
When standing, take a moment to try this:
- Stand with your feet about hip-width apart.
- Bring your attention to your knees.
- Make sure that the knee cap is not locked or pushed back into the knee joint, creating a locked or hyperextended leg.
- Standing with hyperextended legs will put a strain on the lower back.
Let’s expand the definition of what it means to take responsibility of our well-being and include balanced and easeful posture. After all, our posture impacts every aspect of our life, and feeling more freedom and ease in our body will bring more pleasure into our day.
About the writer→ Rita Rivera is a posture coach, teacher of the Alexander Technique, and creator of the Your Brilliant Back 28-Day Posture Challenge. Visit yourbrilliantback.com and ritarivera.com.