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How to Fix Your Posture

by howtolivehappily on May 18th, 2012
Good Posture
Natural Posture

Let's talk about posture.

If you have been unhappy with your posture, you may have been trying things that don't work. You may have found on the internet advice to the effect of:

Stand like a Terminator
Artificial Posture

Pull your shoulders back.
Pull your chest up.
And then remember to always walk around like that.

I don't know about you, but I'm not convinced about this.
You'd constantly have to think about it. You'd look stiff and artificial. You'd walk like a Terminator.

And it would be tiring and unpleasant. You'd feel bad, and people would hate looking at you.

While the "fake it till you make it" approach does have merits as a learning method, they don't include  fooling anybody.

Airplane of Straw
You won't be fooling anybody.

I'd like to suggest a very different solution. A solution that you have probably never thought about. A completely new paradigm, very different from what you may have assumed.

Let me start with an analogy: In a crowded urban area, if you wanted to build a new building, you'd have to free up some space first.

Which means that you'd probably have to blow up an old building.

The Old Paradigm:

If you've been wanting to fix your posture, you may have been asking yourself questions to the effect of:

What is "right" posture?
What kind of a mold do I have to force myself into?

In the old paradigm, there is one "right" configuration, which the body should be assuming all the time - and every deviation from it is an error. Posture is defined as the one and only, fixed fixed way, in which the body will stand.

This notion of posture is rigid and limiting.

The new paradigm:

The body is a complex and intelligent system, which in every moment organizes itself anew, in a response to what the situation at hand calls for. This system is fluid and constantly changing.

There is no "right" posture, that should be held all the time. Rather than that, form follows function.

The function of posture is to carry your weight in the most efficient way possible. The goal of posture is to let you stand upright in a balanced way, so that you expend as little energy as possible - while being ready for action, whenever needed.

This means that good posture should be easy, it should be comfortable, it should be relaxed.

If you stand in an unbalanced way, in order to keep you from tipping over, your body will have to tense up some muscles, thus expending energy unnecessarily. Returning to a balanced position would let you stand with a minimal effort.

That's why you don't fix your posture by forcing yourself into a mold, but by tapping into the intelligence of your body.

Scared Posture
The function
of this posture is
to protect you.

The Function of "Bad" Posture:

Hunching over has a function. If you lift your shoulders and hide your neck between them, while also bending forward and holding your arms in front of your belly and chest, this is your body's way to protect you from danger.

Standing like this, you cover your vulnerable parts and expose your back - which is much better at taking blows.

If you assume such posture, it's because your system considers you to be threatened in some way.

Another way of responding to danger is by aggression. Standing at attention, with your chest puffed up, is an aggressive stance - which is your body's reaction to a perceived attack.

If you often find yourself standing in such ways, this means that you are under stress.

If you spend too much time like this, your autonomous nerve system gets conditioned to keep up the body tension. In other words, even when your brain sends no signals to your muscles, they remain tense. You lose your ability to voluntarily relax.

Holding stressful posture has a negative effect on your emotional state - and posture - creating a positive feedback loop.

With time your body gets tenser and tenser, causing your posture to deteriorate.

How Do We Fix This?

I'd like to recommend to you two practices, two sets of exercises that will fix your body posture and eliminate all problems.

The first set of exercises will blow up your body tension. You need to do these exercises only once. After that the tension will be gone, and you will have freed up space for your new posture.

Here's where the second set of exercises come in. Their goal is to make you more aware of your body. These exercises will train your brain to operate your body in a smart and efficient way.

--> A Brief Recapitulation <--

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Get busy now:

1. Blow up your body tension.

2. Train your brain.


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