Posture: What are our Notions?

People have many ideas and notions about posture. I have recently overheard conversations and read facebook posts and am concerned about what people go through to achieve a position that they think will make them look better without any regard for how they feel.

I would like to share my FAQ’s about Posture – Myth vs Reality

I have so much trouble standing or sitting straight. I must be weak. What muscles should I strengthen to be able to stand or sit straight?

Very often we think that if we tighten the muscles of our chest and belly, and of our back, our muscles will hold us up in a straight position. However, the opposite is true. By doing this, you will have muscles pulling from the front and the back and your spine becomes compressed in the crossfire. When you are not holding so tightly you can feel the lightness and length of your posture. You can feel the pressure on your feet, where it belongs and not in your neck, back, hips, or knees.

My mother always told me to “stand straight.” What does that mean?

Some people think of themselves as a stack of bricks, straight and strong. They are immovable. See myth number 1, 2, and 3. We are not a stack of bricks. We have brain. Even in the age of “smart” building, a stack of bricks does not have a brain. Bricks, or a building, cannot adjust for the nuances of balance and function. We are moving beings, not static towers.

I do loads of sit ups, but still can’t stand for more than 10 minutes without pain. Why is that?

If your posture creates pain, then it is not working for you. You need to move differently and not stand like a stack of bricks. Posture is not about strengthening any muscles. It is about how we organize and coordinate the movements of our head, back, hips, arms, and legs. Our anatomical design, as humans allows us to stand upright but we have to allow our muscles to be relaxed and our skeleton, or bony pelvis to support our belly.

I try very hard to stand straight. Why does my neck hurt?

See question above. Our muscles are meant to move us, not hold us. Our neck muscles are very small. They are for quick movement, for scanning our horizon, for keeping us out of danger; they are not for holding our heads up. Heads are heavy. Again, our anatomical design allows our skeleton to support us and our muscles to move us.

How can I stand up for a longer period when I am wearing high heels?

High heels move our center of gravity forward. If we are aware of our pressure on the feet, it won’t matter if we are standing on pebbles, rocks, dirt, sand, or high heels. Again, we have a brain. If we can sense what we need to do and adjust for different situations, as long as we are wearing shoes that fit correctly we can stand in or on any surface.

I can’t stand or sit for longer than 5 minutes. Everyone says I have beautiful posture. Is it supposed to hurt?

See question previous questions. Our posture needs to come from inside of us. It comes from sensing what we are doing and what we might do differently, not from what it looks like on the outside.

My mother tells me to pull my shoulders back. Can I wear a band to keep them back? Or is there an exercise I can do to strengthen my upper back?

You could wear a band to hold you, but you would probably fight against it the whole time you are wearing it and as soon as you took it off you would revert back to your original posture and be in a great deal of pain. Good posture comes from the inside, not from an outside force.

Sometimes when I sing in the choir, my throat feels tight. I try to hold my head up straight. Is there an exercise I can do to strengthen my neck?

Again, this has nothing to do with the strength in your neck. We do not sing with our necks. Singing is about breathing and how you control and coordinate all of the muscles involved. It is not about strengthening. You need to hold your head in a way that allows your muscles are soft and your neck is comfortable. A lesson with a trained voice teacher might help you.

I read about a gadget that I can sit on at work that will teach me to sit up straight. How does that work? Does it work?

Our posture is not static. We cannot depend on an outside “gadget” to know what our brain wants to do and when. A quick fix is a way not to pay attention to ourselves. We need to know where we are and where we want to be. This happens through learning to be aware.

What is good posture anyway?

Posture is not static. In order for your posture to be “good,” it has to allow you to move in any direction at any given time. The better question is, “How adaptable is your posture to different situations.” What are you standing for- to talk to a loved one, to give speech, to navigate a room full of strangers? Our posture will be different for all of these activities.

My hope is that these answers will help clear up some common misconceptions about posture.

The key to understanding and improving our posture is to move with ease and grace.

Contact me to learn more about your movement, your balance, how to decrease pain, and creakiness at

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