You Cannot Control Your Posture

Do you hear that? You’re not responsible for sitting up straight:

You do not have conscious control over your postural muscles. Your postural muscles are controlled by a part of your sub-conscious system. If you had conscious control over your posture you would be unable to do anything else. For example, while you are reading this, you probably aren’t consciously thinking about holding your head off your chest, or keeping your body from collapsing to the ground.  The reason is… you don’t have to. Your nervous system does the job of maintaining your posture naturally – without you even thinking about it.

Regardless of this natural ability, we are taught to think or be mindful about our posture. We are told to hold our heads up, have our shoulders pulled down and back, and our abs pulled in tight. But since we do not have conscious control over our postural muscles, the act of consciously engaging our muscles to provide postural support activates the mobile muscles that we do have conscious control over. Over time, these movement muscles become neurologically trained to function as stabilizing postural muscles. This is not what they were designed to do. As our movement muscles are re-programed to provide postural stability, they become less efficient at providing movement. All this happens and our postural muscles remain inept. The result is the significant loss of range of motion which will lead to dysfunction, pain and injury…

This is something I’ve been telling a lot of my clients, lately. They come in and guiltily confess that they ‘have bad posture,’ and this is why they hurt. But adding to the stress of modern life by heaping on a large portion of personal guilt isn’t helping anything. Your body arrives at certain postures because of the demands your environment places on it, not by your conscious will. If you hurt because of ‘bad posture,’ you need a little help to realign your fascia. Forcing yourself into a ‘better position’ only makes matters worse.

On a related note–I had twelve years of ballet training in my formative years. About 25 years later I had a trial session with a network chiropractor, who encourages the nervous system to balance itself by targeted, gentle stimulation of the spinal cord. After the session I noticed that my hips spontaneously rolled inward, so that they were parallel, rather than chronically ‘turned out’ in correct ballet posture. All of that training, all of those years ago, was still overriding my body’s natural (and efficient) positioning.

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