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Posture

Saturday, October 2, 2021

I love this image that shows the weight of the human head in different postures. It's a great reminder not to get stuck in one position for too long. Oddly it also gives me fond memories of my dance days. I loved the mondern dance Limón technique; based on breath and using the dynamics of the weight of the body to initiate movement. Often the weight of the head was used to start movement, and it was breathtaking to see and feel just how much movement one drop of the head could initiate. Fascinating but I digress...

Do you ever adjust your rear view mirror when driving for a long period? I did as well until one day I had an epiphany about why we do this. I was stopped at a red light and happened to look over at the building next to me. The exterior walls were reflective and my first thought was, 'who is that poor, old woman with the horrible posture?' With a start I realized I was looking at my own reflection. The mirror did not need adjusting. It hadn't moved while I was driving, but I certainly did. I would start off with pretty good posture and then slouch down, caving in my chest and jutting my chin out. Now when I think of adjusting the mirror, I try to adjust my abysmal posture instead!

Here's an absurdly simple exercise you could try that stumped me at first: Cross you arms in front of your chest; now cross your arms the opposite way. Surprisingly difficult isn't it? I know it took me a few minutes to figure out how to do it. This is difficult for many of us because a lifetime of accumulated physical habits. 

For example,  do you cross your legs when you sit? Over time this can stress the hip and knee joints. Do you lean into one side of a chair or couch when reading or watching TV? Do you always carry a purse or bag on the same side? Or if you are a parent with a small child do you always carry them on the same hip? Try switching it up.

Our habits are comfortable, but over time these habits can shift our posture and eventually end up in a chronic pain situation. Knowing this, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to become aware of our daily habits. It can be startling to discover what our comforts are and what types of problems these complacent postures can create over long periods (years). These lifetime habits are difficult to notice, but when we take the time to recognize habitual postures that can cause stress and strain, applying small changes can make a difference. 

Don't strain to correct your posture. In my clinic I have had to treat clients who were trying to adjust their posture and in so doing ended up in more pain. When we try to force change on our bodies there will often be a defensive reaction involving muscles becoming tight and spasmed. Becoming aware of our habits and slowly changing them over time gives the body an opportunity to accept and integrate the changes you are asking for.

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