Most of my clients come to see me because they’re in pain, but a fair few come for injury prevention or to change the appearance of some aspect of their posture. This client came to see me because the appearance of her ‘hunched’ posture had bothered her for several decades. She often noticed this when she walked down the street and saw her reflection in a shop window, especially when wearing certain types of clothing.
I examined her posture from the side view (click image above to enlarge) and noticed that her upper back, head and shoulders were indeed rounding forward. I knew she wanted me to focus on this area, but if I’d only looked at that part of her body I’d have been doing her a disservice. As a posture specialist I need to look at the entire body as it’s all connected. Can you see how her hips and pelvis have moved forward of her ankles? This is encouraging her upper body to ‘hunch’ forward. If we want to change the area she doesn’t like (her upper body) then we need to focus on her hips and pelvis too, otherwise the results would be limited.
I showed her her photos and explained that trying to consciously pull her head and shoulders back, and standing taller would never work because it would probably feel uncomfortable and she wouldn’t be able to maintain it. She needed to do posture correction exercises that would improve the balance of her muscles, so they could hold her hips, upper back, shoulders and head in a better position without her having to think about it, not just when she stands and sits, but more importantly when she moves! I said it would take some time to change, months more than weeks, because it had taken her her whole life to get into this position.
We went through 7 posture correction exercises during that initial session and I made sure she could do them all comfortably. I told her to do them everyday and to come back in a week. When she returned I saw that there had been a slight improvement which was a good sign. I checked she was doing the exercises correctly and then added a few new ones in to challenge her body further. We saw each other 11 times over 11 months, with the first few follow-up appointments weekly and the later ones spread out every 4-6 weeks. Over the months she became more flexible and stronger, and her posture improved.
The photos below (click image to enlarge) are taken after those 11 months. You can see her hips, shoulders and head are in better positions. Importantly, this is not from her trying to stand with better posture, but rather her just being relaxed, and her muscles doing a better job of holding her alignment in balance because of all the posture correction exercises she did. It’s not perfect (nobody is!) but it’s a good improvement, and I think if she continues with the exercises the progress will continue. In her own words “just over a year later I feel straighter, taller and much more confident in myself – and happier too.”
I was pleased with her transformation and proud of the commitment she made to doing the exercises at home. When clients come to see me and have had postural issues for several decades, they often wonder if there is any hope of changing things. Her example is a lovely demonstration that it is.
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Ameet Bhakta BSc, DipHE – I’m a posture specialist certified by the Egoscue Institute, and founder of Health Through Posture based in London.