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How Is Your Kid’s Posture? – Part 1

Who told you to stand straight? Was it your mom? Was it your gym teacher or drill sergeant? Did you listen? Hopefully, you didn’t.

Over the last 30 years in seeing thousands of Rolfing clients, I have never had one person come in standing straight despite the nagging.

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The truth is the cues you were given—hold your shoulders back, suck your stomach in, push your chest out, tuck your pelvis under—those are all stress responses. Even if you’re not stressed, if you’re standing in that posture, you aren’t breathing naturally. Your breath is restricted by holding your pelvis, stomach, and shoulders unnaturally.

When you maintain a posture behavior long enough, it becomes unconscious and eventually a fixed structure. The fact that everyone around you is some version of you is not helping. On top of this, posture can be a form of expression. We see this particularly with teenagers. Often their slouching is defiance, their indirect assertion of their independence. Our requests to “stand up straight!” are futile.

For kids, when they add carrying heavy backpacks (particularly on one shoulder), wearing flip flops, bad ergonomics, and reading lying down, they are increasing the likelihood of back and neck problems. Slouching, which kids are masters at, will add to these problems.

If these weren’t bad enough, let me add another variable: you. We all learn posture from our parents. You might have been told that your big thighs were inherited from your dad and your flat feet from your mom. That was what I was told. I believed it until I was Rolfed and saw my legs magically drop 20 pounds of tension and my feet develop an arch. I realized I didn’t inherit these characteristics, I learned them. I developed the walk of my father which gave me his tight legs.

Years ago I had a client, David, with a bad groin problem. It was easy to fix with Rolfing. But about a year later, David asked if I could help his son. It turned out his son had the same structure and movement pattern David had when he first came in. His son never had the injury David had, he just modeled his father and ended up with the same groin pain!

Next week is part 2 – How to achieve better posture

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

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