We have all heard it before: “sit up straight”, “pull your shoulders back”, “don’t slouch/lean”, “get a standing work station”, “sit on a ball”, the list goes on and on. All of these statements reference our posture and tends to be a leading cause for treatment and assessment for countless patients and individuals.
But just what is posture?
Posture, as a basic definition, is defined as the position someone holds themselves in during periods of sitting or standing. But let’s put a spin on it:
Posture is the preferred holding pattern for your body in a given environment to perform a task or movement with efficiency and safety, while utilizing the least amount of caloric consumption possible.
Let’s think about the difference between these definitions.
Most people view or observe posture statically, as in the first definition, but posture comes in many forms. We talk about things such as “running form” and “lifting form” when in a sense all we are referring to is dynamic posture (definition 2).
It is also worth noting that most postural treatments are based on theory – meaning that posture does not necessarily predispose you to neck/shoulder pain, especially when our bodies adapt and learn to function in different positions. We play different sports, grow up in different regions, have different jobs and lifestyles. So how can there be a one size fits all posture?
Posture is also difficult to study because it is very much tied to emotion and environment. Would you like to “fix” yourself at work to relieve stress on your body? Well it won’t matter if you are disengaged with your job and wish you were not there.
It also does not help if your chair/table or workstation does not adjust. How else can your body adapt if the tools you are using remain in a constant location or position?
Furthermore, in relation to caloric consumption or task completion your body will “sacrifice” position for intention. Meaning in order to focus better on your Excel spreadsheet your brain does not have the time to worry about “neutral spine.” So it will utilize ways to reduce the energy costs in other areas and drive focus to the task at hand.
Try sitting upright for 1 hour straight – chances are you will be uncomfortable and have muscle soreness and strain in other places. We were not meant to be “stuck” in ANY static positions (other then sleeping) for prolonged periods.
With that being said however some of us are limited by modern society and our jobs, so what can we do. Well one thing is to think of yourself as a cement truck. Even when the trunk is stopped or idle the cement cylinder continues to roll/spin. Below we have an example of one such exercise you can do with your pelvis which is not only great to produce these tiny movements but also assess to see if you are indeed sitting evenly.
Enjoy, and keep moving!