Did you enjoy building with blocks as a kid? I honestly don’t know if I did (I don’t know if owned any blocks), but for some reason I find myself drawn to blocks now that I have children of my own. I *may* have bought my little girl her first set of wooden blocks before she was even old enough to sit up. Maybe.
The problem with blocks, however, is that they are easily knocked over (anyone who’s played with small children know this all too well). As long as the blocks are left untouched (by human hands, a gust of air, or in some cases a really strong fly), they will stay put. But any sort of disturbance and they will come tumbling down.
The idea that posture is a position is false.
This is why I get confused with some of the ways various people approach posture. I remember in my kinesiology class talking about the “plumb-line of posture.” On one particular day we “buddied up” and marked all of the bony locations on our body that are supposed to line up if we have good posture.
Ears over the shoulders. Shoulder dissect the hip joint. The hip is over the ankle. Etc.
While this tool is effective, to a degree, for determining muscular and structural imbalances, it leaves much to be desired when talking about good posture. When viewed this way, our posture becomes like a tower of blocks that must be perfectly aligned or else the entire structure comes tumbling down. This view doesn’t take into account that our bodies are mobile systems that can twist, bend forwards, stretch sideways, and do all sorts of other things that just don’t work with the whole “stacking” image.
Good posture is an action.
Posture is dynamic. And really, while we are talking details, I much prefer the term “alignment” over posture. Good alignment allows for the constantly shifting adjustments of our bodies and the world that we live in. And for most of us, this news should be a welcome idea.
I mean, think about it, how many of us have had those days where our determination for “good posture” has left us tense, sore, and hopeless. Sitting up straight, holding your shoulders back, trying to mimic a tall stack of blocks is not very enlivening. It is, however, exhausting.
When we let go of the idea that posture is a held position we can move toward that beautiful alignment we all strive for without feeling the strenuous tension of trying to “hold” ourselves in place.
Movement Experience: Sensing your own dynamic alignment
Here are two quick experiences you can try on your own to help you better understand what is meant by “dynamic alignment.”
1. Static Posture: Stand with your feet just underneath your hips. Close your eyes, and do not move anything. Try to maintain a completely still position. Nothing moves. Nothing wavers. Notice what happens to your breath. Notice how you feel. Do you feel stable?
2. Dynamic Alignment: With your eyes still closed, relax your muscles enough to still feel secure in this standing position, but allow yourself to subtly shift your weight as feels natural. You may find that you naturally experience tiny shifts side to side, front to back, or perhaps even a slight figure eight experience. Your body is adjusting for the changes in the environment and in your body.
Notice your breath. Notice how you feel. Do you feel more or less stable than before?
Posture is a whole body experience, and the body was designed for mobility. So as you sit there reading this, rather than thinking about holding a posture…. find a fluid, adaptable, and mobile approach to “sitting up tall.” Don’t stiffen so much that you cut off your body’s natural ability to adjust, move, and BREATHE.
For more tips, information, and guidance on living a more easy and comfortable life without pain, be sure to check out my ebook: Pain Free.