6 min read
Posture is the position you take consciously and unconsciously. This article will discuss passive and active posture, how physical training and mental and emotional stress affects posture and our individual postural genetic limitations.
Optimal posture is more about the way your body feels and less about the way your body looks.
Perfect alignment and symmetry do not exist in the human body. Therefore it is inferior to approach posture with this visual first strategy. Obtaining and maintaining “good” posture is about developing high-quality tissues (muscle, tendons, ligaments, additional).
What is passive posture?
Passive posture is the position taken by our bodies unconsciously. Examples are the way we stand when waiting in line at the bank, our sitting position while waiting to be seated at a restaurant, or how we sit while working at a desk for multiple hours. Our bodies can take on many postures and each situation has its own “optimal” posture. This is why posture is not about the perfect balance of bones and muscles and more about the state of our bodies while in a position. Some muscles should be engaged and others should be relaxed. Some bones should stay in the body’s center of gravity and some should counterbalance the body for balance.
What commonly looks like “bad” posture may actually be perfectly normal for an individual.
In order to understand how your body should feel, you have to first understand body mechanics (tension and alignment) and have a base level of knowledge of how joints, muscles, ligaments and tendons work together. Once you have a working knowledge of body mechanics you will be able to identify the imbalances of your body and understand how those imbalances are the reason for “bad” posture.
Active posture will eventually change passive posture.
Active posture is the position you take intentionally because it feels most balanced or advantageous. The active posture you take when sitting at a desk is very different than the active posture you take bracing for an impact or the posture you take before performing a pushup. Active posture is dictated by the situation and the outcome you are planning for. If you are a person who regularly engages an active posture, in doing so, you are conditioning your body, which will directly affect your passive posture.
There are many factors that create posture.
A few variables are; muscle tone, ligaments and tendon pliability, overall joint mobility, blood flow, inflammation, swelling, tenderness, guarded areas, stiffness, suppleness, hardness, softness and many more. Being able to identify the state of individual tissues will enable you to formulate a therapy and training strategy for obtaining your personal optimal passive and active posture. The only way to fully identify the state of your body is with first hands-on assessments and second movement assessments. Skipping this step before beginning an exercise/movement/training program is a critical error and should be avoided whenever possible. Without the knowledge of the quality of your tissues, you may be training in a way which is worsening your posture.
If you are training, make sure you are regularly thinking about the effects your training is having on your posture and the quality of your tissues.
It is very common that people who engage in training programs and regular exercise negatively affect their passive and active posture. This is because often times people are performing certain exercises with incorrect form/technique. Also by training at too high of an intensity and too regularly will negatively affect your passive and active posture. Those who perform regular exercises, such as going for an evening walk often times negatively affect their posture. This happens because of a lack of basic body mechanics knowledge and never learning the proper way to perform the exercise.
Our emotional and mental stress often times manifests into physical tension, causing negative effects on our posture.
When one’s overall well-being is “down” it is common for the body to tighten, being unable to relax. This is why it is crucial everyone partakes in their own daily movement practice. When we move our bodies we can release stagnant tension. Movement means; stretching, bending, twisting, squatting, lunging, jumping, lifting, pulling, hanging, pushing, breathing, inverting, climbing, running, swimming and so much more. Also when we move we breathe deeply and when we control our breath we can temporarily alter our state of mind, improving our emotional state.
Bodywork is also excellent for releasing physical tension that we ourselves are having a hard time affecting. Most people will benefit from bodywork one time per week, just be careful that you do not “use” your therapist as medicine (like Advil) and forgo your own movement practice (which in most cases is superior in releasing tension). BARUCHealth recommends you seek out therapists skilled in forms of acupressure and or pressure point therapy. These types of therapy encourage blood flow, muscle tension release, and give the patient excellent feedback of the quality of their tissues. Most therapists will easily be able to identify swelling, tenderness, guarded areas, and other focus points. Once you have these focus points you can train in a way to encourage a better quality of the tissues.
We are all built differently, it is just the way it is.
The reason this article has focused on how the quality of our tissues is most important in controlling our posture is because so much of our alignments are dictated by our genetic regulations. Everyone is different and there is no perfect posture that we can set as a standard to compare to. Some people have two different leg lengths, one shoulder sits higher than the other, some backs curve at the top and others curve at the bottom. This means that if you have ever been told to bring your shoulders back and down, put your chest out and chin up, you have simply been told the wrong information.
The one thing everyone must do is achieve and maintain the highest quality of tissues possible. This means working towards; developing atrophied muscles, creating suppleness throughout the body, making sure your tendons/ligaments can flex and are pliable, and creating a body that at rest is free of pain and tension. If you are doing your best on achieving these things, your are well on your way to having and maintaining great posture.
If you are looking for a Movement Program that can help you with your posture, click this link: BARUCHealth Movement Path 1.
All The Very Best,
BARUCHealth Programs For Health Vitality & Performance