Posture is the place from which movement begins and ends, and good posture means better quality movement, which in turn leads to less wear and tear on joint surfaces and therefore less pain. As we adopt a particular postural habit such as sitting slouched with our head forward to look at a computer screen, over many months and years our body tends to “harden” into that posture, and when we stand up, we wind up standing with a slouch and a forward head. Our bodies function best in good posture, so developing good postural habits can improve not only sports performance, but also the quality of our lives by reducing muscle and joint pain caused by poor posture.
So, what does good posture feel like? Stand up, close your eyes, and notice where you feel the weight of your body. Is it even through both feet? Do you feel the weight going through the muscles at the front of the hips? Do you feel any compression in your low back? If someone were to push gently down on your shoulders, would you buckle anywhere, or would you be as steady as a post?
Adjust yourself so that you feel the weight going directly through the leg bones rather than through any soft tissue. Most of you will probably have to bring your pelvis back over your heels a little more to get that feeling. Now slightly lift your ribcage up off of your pelvis, and let your shoulders relax down on your heightened ribcage. Do not squeeze your shoulders together in the back – if anything, think about separating them slightly from each other. Now, lift the base of the skull (top of the neck at the back) up as high as it will go without any strain. You should feel that you are as tall and as wide as you can be – that you are taking up as much space as you can. Is the weight still going through your leg bones? Notice how long you feel, and how tension is supporting your body rather than compression.
Now sit down, making sure you are sitting on top of your sit bones rather than behind them, and feel the weight go through the sit bones as you go through the same exercise above. Now set your watch or your computer to beep at you every 10 minutes, and check your posture. If you follow through and heed the constant reminder for about 3 weeks, your posture will improve.
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