Is it “Bad” Posture, or Habit Posture?

“Hi. I have Bad Posture”. 

A statement that we often hear when we meet someone and tell them that we are PTs. Or the new patient who immediately begins to apologize for their “bad posture”(either perceived or because someone else has told them)

I saw a friend with her 15 month old granddaughter the other day. My friend was holding the wriggly toddler on her hip in “mom posture”. You know the one I mean: hip jutted out to the side, one leg locked back, shoulder hiked up as she tried to keep the little one from escaping on the busy sidewalk (she had escaped from her stroller in a shop with multiple shiny, breakable objects moment before. Healthy and adventurous little one!). 

Many people, including some health professionals I know of would term my friend’s posture “Bad” and “Dangerous”. They would tell her what she was doing “wrong”.  Is it though? It’s not her habit posture. It’s not how she lives. She has no pain in that position, for that moment.  It was the best posture for that moment to hold onto the little one.

If you have met Rebecca and Susan, you know that when you say, apologetically and with a bit of guilt “I have bad posture,” we are likely to respond with:

 “There is no bad posture, only habitual posture. Your posture and position  changes according to the activity that you are doing.” Working in the same posture because you have been told to or there is fear and/or pain when trying different positions?  Pain in back, neck, hips, knees, feet? Yes, we look at your spine and pelvic postures, mobility, and habits. And we find more optimal ones FOR YOU. Your posture is not the same as the person next to you.

Thank about it. The posture you need to lift a floppy bag of mulch is not the one you need to chase a toddler or to feed the cat or the dog. The posture for walking up a steep uphill is not the one you would use for a downhill or level surface. If you are trying to use the same habitual posture, it might explain some of your back/hip/neck discomfort. Again, if you know Susan and Rebecca, you know that we have different body builds and our movements and positions for reaching and lifting will be different to optimize for each one of us. We want to help you find different postures and positions.

The point is, our spine is mobile. It is meant to be able to be in different positions and to move in and out of those positions. Let’s return to that wriggly 15 month old. She is mobile. She explores different positions to allow her to lift something. She does not worry about if she should or should not bend. She moves. She is on her tummy (not dangerous for most of us, despite what google sources might tell you. It depends on the person!) and on her side. She tries to walk in her mom’s high heel shoes! 

Wait!! Aren’t high heels bad for you? Not necessarily (as long as they don’t cause foot soreness…that’s a different story). Do you have shoes you love and want to wear? Let’s work to provide your spine, pelvis, and hips with options. Let’s provide you with options for varied postures and positions.

Let’s do some retraining to allow your trunk to be strong in varied positions. Let’s PLAY with Postures. Develop some new patterns and motions. When we help someone find a different position and they say “Wow, that is weird!” Does it hurt? “No! It feels great!” = mission accomplished!

And strength does make a difference, but again, being strong in different positions and postures. Not simply holding your abdomen “tight” and moving in the same direction to lift, push, and pull. Yes, your posture changes after surgeries, babies, and with pain. Can we change, refine, regain motion and strength? Yes! We work with you to strengthen the pelvis, spine, abdomen, legs, and to bring the team together.

For sure, this information is not what you will read or hear from some other sources. You might have been told that you should NEVER sleep on your stomach because it will “wreak havoc” (yes, that is a quote from another professional) on your spine. Phooey. Many of our clients do not like to sleep on their stomach, but when we provide them with options and demonstrate some belly positions, they find it’s a great way to play with their kids or grandkids for a while…not for all times.

You might have read that you should change mattresses every 5 years (!!). There is no research that indicates that is the case (other than to support the mattress store!). You may have been told to “tighten your abdominal,” to not twist. Not so. The body is made to spiral and tight abdominals don’t allow you to move very well.

Do I sound cynical and frustrated? Perhaps a bit. Too many people have been told what NOT to do, have been sold a bill of goods (literally and figuratively), are afraid to move, and  have pain. They have been provided UNHELPFUL information!!

So repeat after me: “There is no bad posture”. “I can change my habits and give my body options.”  “I can strengthen and be more mobile in different ways.”  “I have choices. I can live without spine stiffness and pain. I can move.”  Yes, you can!! Ready? Let’s get going on this!

If you are ready to learn more, to explore ways to live with less pain and stiffness, and to regain mobility and better function, contact us. Ask for our FREE 30 minute consultation (in-person or by phone) to tell us about your concerns, what you have been told or done to try to make changes. We understand that you might be skeptical. It might be risky because you have been told all of the things that are wrong.   If you are ready for changes and to find the RIGHT,  ask us about solutions.

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