Do you have your camera ready? You'll want to take some pictures of your posture after you finish reading this.
What's the first thing that comes to mind when you think of standing up straight? If I had to guess, it's probably lift the chest up and take shoulders back. And why not? This is the edict of mothers, teachers and military instructors the world over.
But what if they were wrong? What if lifting the chest and taking the shoulders back simply made you lean backward and compress the lower spine?
Here's a simple cure for your posture and the back pain blues: Instead of lifting your chest and leaning backward, move as if you were going to sit in a chair, but stop right away. All sorts of good things happen.
The human body has a specific design. Good posture follows that design, and it isn't all that hard to have good posture. If you stick out your butt (sit into a chair position as little as possible), you're off to a good start.
Here's a simple explanation for the workings of the body: Our bones hold us up, the muscles move the bones, and nerves tell the muscles to move the bones.
In order for the nerves to successfully help the muscles to move the bones, the bones need to be well aligned. In order for the bones to be well aligned the muscles need to have balanced tone. It is a holistic pattern that if respected makes having a happy and healthy body a much more possible aspiration.
When you stick your butt out your thighs move backward under the hips and the backs of the knees soften. This is probably the opposite of what you have heard about posture from everyone who told you to stand up straight since you were a child but give it a try and you might be surprised.
Sticking your butt out slightly accomplishes four important objectives.
1. Rotating the top of the pelvis forward slightly brings it to a neutral position.
A main concern with posture is the verticality of the spine which sits on top of the pelvis. If the pelvis is misaligned, the spine can’t stand up straight.
2. The thigh bones move under the hips.
Verticality again — looking at a skeleton from the side, the leg and spine are meant to be in one straight line.
3. You won't lock your knees.
Locking the knees, also called hyperextension, means taking the knee joint past its natural range of motion. Too many people hold themselves up by locking the knees backward, which also pushes the upper thigh further forward. Softening the knees releases the upper thighs backward with ease.
4. The arch of the lower back supports the rest of the spine.
When the legs align under the pelvis the lower spine is pulled into its natural curve. The curve of the lower back supports the extension of the upright spine.
OK, now either find a friend to snap some pictures or take some selfies standing sideways in a mirror. Stand in what I call "Old You" posture, then stick out your butt (sit into a chair position as little as possible), and check out the difference. What you see might surprise you!