You might want to improve your posture because you want to get pain free, you want to look better, or you want to reduce your risk of future pain and injuries. Or perhaps all three!
So how do you effectively improve your posture? Well, there’s a lot of bad information out there, so here are five myths I want you to know about.
Myth No. 1 – Thinking about having good posture is enough
I bet you were told as a child to sit up straight and hold your head high. This is what most people think good posture means and that you need to consciously think about holding yourself correctly.
This never works long-term!
Postural alignment is subconscious and based on the balance/function of your muscles. How many times have you tried to sit up straight, and then after two minutes you get distracted and end up in your ‘normal’ poor posture? You can’t spend 24 hours a day thinking about your posture, so this strategy is not sustainable, plus you may be using the wrong muscles to get into that ‘better posture’.
Myth No. 2 – This is the way I was born
Your current posture is based on how you have lived all your life. Unfortunately, for most of us, this has included sitting behind a desk at school for hours upon hours, and this might have created imbalances in your body. It’s not your DNA and in most cases it can be improved.
Myth No. 3 – I need to pull my shoulders and head back
This is so misleading! Yes I want your shoulders and head to be in a good position, but we need to find out why they are out of position in the first place. With most of the clients I see, their shoulders and head have rounded forward in response to their pelvis, lower back and upper back being out of alignment. If you just try and pull your shoulders and head back it can feel uncomfortable, you overwork certain muscles and it doesn’t last, because after a few minutes you’ll go back into your ‘normal’ poor position.
Myth No. 4 – I need to pull my stomach in
No, no and no! What’s key is for your stomach to be relaxed. Imagine I told you to tense your biceps constantly as you went through your day. It would be crazy. The same is true for your abdominals and doing so can create more imbalances.
Myth No. 5 – I just need to strengthen my core
I hear this one all the time and it drives me crazy! Before you get stronger, you need to get straight, otherwise you are just strengthening and locking in your imbalances, which could ultimately lead to more pain.
If you had a tall building leaning over to one side, would you just want to put more concrete on it? It might help it withstand the extra stress for a while but then those cracks would appear again. It would make much more sense to get that building into alignment first. The same thing is true for your body.
So what should you do to improve your posture?
Well, your posture is affected by the balance and function of your muscles. You need to put them back into balance using posture correction exercises. Those muscles, once in balance, will hold you in better alignment without you even having to think about it!
Ameet Bhakta BSc. DipHE.
Egoscue Institute Certified