Good Posture = Upright and Relaxed

Posture is one of those things that is much more important than the average person realizes. And it’s not just chiropractors who are saying that. Just google the benefits of posture and you will likely be shocked at what you find.

Fat and Old

But the average person is far more concerned about posture as it relates to their appearance than how it effects their health. The fact that poor posture makes you look fat and old makes for a much more of a compelling reason to change  than something like decreasing pain, increasing energy or one of the many other benefits of improving posture.

Penny Between Your Butt Cheeks

But regardless of what your motivation is for improving your posture (And honestly, it doesn’t matter) You have to first know what good posture is so you know what you are aiming at. Now this might seem like common knowledge, but it’s really not. Years ago I had a patient tell me that “Good posture is holding a penny between your butt cheeks.” She would tell me that ALL THE TIME! It used to make me laugh and I never bothered correcting her. She was an elderly woman and I didn’t have the heart to burst her bubble. But between you and I, pretending you are holding a penny between your butt cheeks is NOT what it means to have good posture. And I’ll tell you why in a second.

Posture simplified

The simple description of good posture is when the right side matches the left side and your head, shoulders, pelvis and feet are all stacked on top of each other in a vertical line when looking from the side. This means that your body isn’t leaning too far forward or too far back.

Upright and Relaxed

But that posture description is really an oversimplification that is missing one major point. Because if the mechanics of it is all there is to it, there’s nothing wrong with just pinching your shoulders back, wearing a posture strap to hold you upright or even standing like you have a penny between your butt cheeks. And although there are many things that you can do that will allow your body to mimic good posture, if you are not upright AND relaxed…you don’t have good posture.

Real Posture Change

Basically if you have to think about your body position or rig up some gadget in order to maintain good posture, you don’t have it. Good posture is when you have trained your body to be upright and you DON’T have to think about it. It should be your natural position and a relaxed position.  And really the only way to do that is to correct the muscle imbalances that are allowing the poor posture to begin with. Typically that means to stretch the chest and neck muscles in the front and strengthen the neck muscles in the back and upper back muscles between the shoulder blades.

Good News

And the best news is that almost everyone can improve their posture and reap the benefits. Unless you are 80 years old and are already the hunched over lady in church, there is room for improvement. Not only will you feel better and have more energy, but you will look thinner and younger too. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me!