When we spend prolonged periods of time sitting, or standing, we inevitably adapt our posture to feel more comfortable. Years of doing this and the adaptions we make become second nature. We start to notice aches, pains, sensitivity and tired muscles and joints. We end up trapped in a vicious cycle of pain, moving our body in a way that feels natural, but is only causing more problems. Ultimately, we’re holding our bodies in a way that feels more comfortable than it is suitable to aid full body function.
How does this affect us?
Our adapted posture is affecting our bodies in ways we may not currently feel but will become evident in time. For example, any physical activity could see you using incorrect muscle groups to carry out your routine. This can actually weaken the muscles that are training (that perhaps shouldn’t be worked), and those that aren’t getting the workout they need are not supporting the joints or muscles that they should. This could see a need for back, knee, hip or other surgeries later on.
When we acknowledge the problems and try to rectify it, we experience more pain because by now, it’s ‘unnatural’. Although initially we will experience some pain and discomfort, adjusting our posture from a way trained over a period of years will be better for holistic health. Correct posture can aid in digestive function, correct support and strengthening of the spine, hips, knees and most other joints. This helps you to ultimately hold and support your bodies in a correct way.
The studies of postural therapy
We’ve worked with postural therapist Clare Chapman who practices the Gokhale Method on several postural features. The Gokhale Method, under Esther Gokhale (founder), established that fashions, lifestyle and familial influence have contributed to an incorrect posture. When they looked to babies and small children, they found that they instinctively knew how to ‘hold’ themselves correctly for standing, sitting, lifting etc.; but this quickly changes as a child grows and develops when they begin to mimic siblings, parents and grandparents who have all adapted their posture.
Additionally, Esther’s research took her to various countries around the world to understand the posture of people in developing countries and she found that reports of back problems and pain were significantly lower than those in westernized cultures. Replicating the movements of the individuals she studied, she found this had incredible results in helping to alleviate and correct back pain. In fact, organisations like Google have had Esther come in to illustrate the difference slight adjustments can make – take a look at her video at the internet giants HQ below:
What does good posture look like?
- Crown of the head lifted- simultaneously lowering your chin
- Shoulders rolled down and back
- Adjusting your pelvis- often our pelvis’ are tucked under (causing our bottom to sit under), tilt it down and your bottom will stick out slightly so it aligns with your shoulders
- Knees should sit straight ahead
- Feet should be straight with your foot arched in a kidney shape
If you’re looking to change your posture after years of comfort sitting/standing, you’ll no doubt need some evaluation and support to help you correct your posture safely and comfortably. Booking an assessment with a Gokhale practitioner or a physiotherapist is ideal as they may be able to cater a programme specific to your needs. As a starting point though, give the following resources a try: