The Blog

Just a few of my musings... 


Should I worry about Posture?

"Cathedral" Artist: Rachael Gingell

What is good posture? In the world of movement and manual therapy, there can be a tendency to be preoccupied with 'correct posture.' The idea being that If clients have 'better posture,' they will have less pain and increased functionality. But surprisingly, when you look around an office, it's usually the people sitting up tall who are in pain, not the people slouching at their desks. Why? Because associating poor posture with back pain is ingrained in our thinking so much so it's become known as common sense. So when a person is in pain, they sit up tall in an attempt to reduce pain. The people who aren't worried about the way they sit aren't worried, because they don't hurt. However, for the most part correcting posture doesn't seem to help.

So why do we hear about posture then? In part, it's an old way of thinking. In part, it's a way of measuring muscular balance between the front and back of a body. But it can't be the only assessment tool. But asking questions and finding out about a person's experience in that posture is critical. But most important is watching a body move. Can a body stand up tall with as little effort as they slump on the couch? Limitations in mobility and adaptability are often the root of pain.

Our bodies are smart! And our postures are often the most efficient for the activities that we do most. We spend much of our lives doing activities in front of us, and this often results in a forward posture. Since we regularly shorten muscles in the front body and lengthen muscles in the back body, this becomes a default. Our bodies learn to be efficient in our daily tasks. So if your posture is serving you well in your daily routine, then it is the right posture for you.

So your posture is likely okay. Unless, and this is a big unless, you are unable to do the things you want to do because of pain or restriction. Then it is no longer serving you, then you have the opportunity and choice to make a change. Increasing mobility, adaptability, dynamic stabilization, and strength can definitely change the way you experience your body. And it may result in an external change in posture, but it's not the goal - functionality and pain reduction is the goal.

K Martin Pilates 
Based in Boston, MA
Tel: (617) 299-9160