so What’s wrong with your posture?
(Hint: Nothing.)

Human beings are not buildings and do not have posture

You’ve probably been told many times that there’s something wrong with your posture, or maybe you’ve told others the same thing. You might have even been given specific exercises or seen products online that claim to help you maintain a straight posture in mechanical means or in even means of electrical stimulation (!).

However, the problem with this approach, used by parents, trainers, teachers, and doctors, is that humans don’t have a fixed posture. Here’s why.

Humans are not like buildings or trees. While both humans and buildings experience gravity and need to overcome it, our bodies are designed to move, and our response to gravity is always changing. What many refer to as Posture, is an attampt to capture the body’s current state, which is constantly changing and adjusting, and define it as “correct.”  It’s very much to trying to describe Beethoven’s 9th Symphony using just one sound. That doesn’t seem logical, right? So why do we accept this approach when it comes to our body?

While buildings can remain upright due to the principles of statics, human stability (and that of other animals) is dependent on the laws of dynamics. The explanation for this is a complex physical matter that goes beyond the scope of this post. Instead of dwelling on the explanation, I encourage you to experience it firsthand.

Watch the video and try it out!

FOrcing yourself into a “posture” has a price

Any effort to maintain constant stability and “straightness” goes against the natural structure of our bodies. Forcing ourselves into such a state means we neglect important abilities, we neglect parts of ourselfs.
Pulling your shoulders back, tightening your “core” muscles, or strengthening your back muscles just doesn’t make sense. Muscles aren’t supposed to be constantly tight. Muscles should contract to move the skeleton or stabilize it while other muscles generate movement.

If you do tighten your back and abdominal muscles (referred to as core muscles by many, which I find truly misleading), here’s what might happen:

  1. Your back (and other joints) become even tighter – based on my experience as a Feldenkrais practitioner, people with back pain tend to hold their muscles back much more than necessary. This reduces mobility and limits the muscles to specific, familiar patterns. Strengthening your back muscles will only worsen this situation.
  2. You breathe less – tightening the muscles around your chest and abdomen restricts the movement of the ribs and thoracic area, hindering one of their vital functions: breathing!
  3. You become stiffer – similar to point 1, your joints will become stiffer, reducing your sensitivity to perceive your environment and limiting your ability to utilize external forces instead of relying on your muscles.