Relaxing Into Good Posture: Discover Ease In Your Body Now

Relaxing into good posture

Originally written as a guest post for One Yoga House, adapted for this blog

People commonly think that your posture is just the position that your body is in. When you have poor posture, people tell you to sit up straight and pull your shoulders back. But when you stop thinking about it, you slowly hunch over again. We all know that good posture is better for your health, looks attractive, and makes movement easier and more comfortable. It can be a challenge to find a way to hold a comfortable, ideal posture without constantly thinking about it.

After working with thousands of patients, I have a more nuanced perspective on posture. We can’t force good posture for long, it is much easier to relax into it.

Posture is a window into a person’s structure and gives us a glimpse of how that structure stores tension. Many people blame poor posture on tight or weak muscles. This is only a partial truth, the effects on muscles are more often an effect rather than a cause.

Something that blew my mind while studying anatomy is the concept of biotensegrity. This describes how our architectural pieces (bone) are pulled and held upright by tension, rather than stacking on each other like a building. Cartilage, fluid, and synovial tissue separate your bones, which don’t actually touch each other. You are held up thanks to tension that is balanced with stretchy elements like muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia.

When you have balanced tension in your body, you can easily hold a posture that looks good, but when there is too much tension, it takes a lot of effort to force yourself into a good looking posture.

Good posture is attractive because it suggests that there is ease in the body. Conversely, too many accumulated patterns of tension can pull us into non-ideal and contracted postures. When we hold poor postures for a long time, there are physical changes in the body. Bones grow into joint spaces (arthritis). Muscles become weak and overstretched or become tight and short. Fascia gets sticky, moving hurts, discs bulge, nerves and organs compress, bony casts form, and more.

The more you repeat something, the more efficient the nerve firing sequence controlling that behavior gets. That’s why when you practice a new skill, or study for an exam, you get better and faster with more practice. Your nerves build more connections in specific pathways in anticipation of future use, for efficiency purposes.

That process is all based on demand. If you ask your body to do the same thing over and over, it will get more efficient at that. If you practice poor posture for a long time, your brain gets fooled into thinking that posture is normal. The longer that’s true, the more those specific nerve pathways get reinforced. When that happens, it takes more time and effort to re-train your body.

My clients learn about how their body stores tension and trauma. With time, they learn how to train their bodies to become more self aware and able to self correct. With consistent effort, anyone can develop the ability to relax into good posture.


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