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How to Change Your Posture

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Who told you how to strand straight? Was it your mother, your gym teacher or your drill sergeant? They were just repeating what they were told.

We all were passed down the instructions where standing straight was some combination of – shoulders back, stomach in, chest out and head up. When you think about, all these behaviors require effort to hold them. Over time, you may be straighter. You certainly will be tenser.

A better way

If you had a choice to try to be straight or just be straight, what would you choose? I am a lazy guy.  I would go for not working at it. To get there you need to change your muscular-skeletal structure and your postural behavior. You will also need to release the years of old stress and poor posture from the soft tissue so your skeleton has the room to stand straight. You will need to unlearn what you were taught and modeled, then learn a natural way of moving and standing.

Postural change

Whenever a body part does something it is not meant to do, even subtly over time, there is “micro-trauma”. Like a major trauma, your body will produce scar tissue to deal with the strain. This scar tissue can feel like those tight knots in your back and neck. These bands of tension become the cables helping non-posture muscles be posture muscles. Eventually what was helping starts hurting. Not only are these muscles tense, they become a tight suit restricting and shorting you while often making you more misaligned.

To give your soft tissue suit more room for your skeleton to stand straight, the soft tissue needs to be released through manipulation such as massage, acupuncture or Rolfing. Yoga can be very effective if the tissue isn’t rock like.

Rather than “holding” we should be balanced in gravity. Once the limiting restrictions are removed,  you are ready to learn new behaviors. The first is to breathe. None of us breathe relaxed which at least makes our chest and back tight. Next is learning to walk using gravity – meaning leaning into gravity versus leaning back with gravity pulling you back as you move forward.

Learning to use gravity to pull your movement forward sets you up to stand straight using gravity. Your released body now can unlearn the holding and thereby walk using gravity… and a magical thing happens– you start standing straighter than ever – with no effort.

Owen Marcus, MA Certified Advance Rolfer, www.align.org, 265.8440.

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