How to improve postural alignment

Good postural alignment is a universally desired state. Regardless of time and place we always wanted to and continue wanting to look poised and graceful with our body in perfect alignment. In our aesthetic judgements of ourselves and others we instinctively know that the most honest statement of human vitality reveals itself through the body’s way of moving and being vertical. Looking at ballet dancers, models on the catwalk and celebrities on the red carpet, we develop our idea of what perfect postural alignment should be like – and follow it, often unaware of the negative consequences. The posture that looks good on the outside may cost us a lot on the inside. Let me tell you one reason why this is the case and give you a simple step to develop a posture that gives you both comfort and good looks.

How to improve postural alignment
Sustainable postural alignment comes from your nervous system, not your muscular effort!

We all are too familiar with the age old formula for “good posture” i.e. shoulders back, chin tucked in and the chest puffed up. Some more ambitious versions add a “belly in!” too. The problem with these instructions is that they not only cost you a lot of energy but also are only sustainable for about 30 seconds. And even if you are super committed and succeed, lets say for a day, then by the evening you feel like a soldier after a parade and quickly slump into your old shape feeling knackered and with a headache.

Allow your posture to find its own alignment

Solution: Instead of shaping yourself into a straightjacket of “correct posture”, allow your body to find its proper alignment by orienting your nervous system. Movement research shows that to move well and freely our body needs bi-directionality1. Practically this means that your body will unfold naturally long and move effortlessly if you open your perception to two directions Up and Down. You can do this by allowing rich contact of your feet with the ground and your head floating freely towards the sky. So next time you take yourself for a walk, make it into an experiment and see what happens when you pay close attention to every sensation that comes from your feet touching the ground whilst floating your head upwards like a helium-filled balloon. If you are courageous and the weather is nice you may even take your shoes off to amplify the effect.

The science of postural alignment

The science bit: Evolutionarily speaking, we were never meant to stress about and have to work on the way we stand and walk. Our bodies relate to gravity by a complex set of unconscious processes largely regulated by the vestibular system, which constantly tells us where are we in relation to the ground2. It is the vestibular system that helps us, even before we know it, to regain balance after tripping over on an uneven pavement and it is the vestibular system that maintains a whole network of micro muscular adjustments to keep us upright. The less we interfere with this natural mechanism the better for our bodies and posture. So, you may ask, “How is it then that when I don’t work on my posture I end up in this unattractive slump, clearly that’s no good for my body is it?”. The reason is that, in this day and age of smart devices we simply don’t inhabit our bodies anymore, and spend most of our time in ideas and concepts in our head, including a concept of posture! Our bodies have become unchartered territories and so the poor vestibular system is deprived of sensory information to manage our uprightness. To reawaken it you simply need to reconnect to the senses of having ground that supports you and the sky to project to and your body will be much happier.

Try this simple step and let me know how it works for you. And if you would like to see how to apply the wisdom of the nervous system to transform the way your body holds itself, why not book an appointment at my London or St Albans locations.

References

1. Tonic Function: A Gravity Response Model For Rolfing Structural and Movement Integration

2. The Vestibular System

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