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What Does Good Posture Look Like? Probably Not What You Think.

Published February 2nd, 2022 by Integrated Physical Therapy

What does “good posture” look like?

When we ask people about their posture, the most common response is “My posture sucks”. It’s not surprising, because between looking at our devices and sitting, most people today spend most of their time with their body folded, rarely opening up to lengthen things fully and stand their tallest.

Studies show sedentary, sitting habits take a significant toll on posture, back pain and health. Diving deeper than “I know it when I see it”

What does “better posture” look like, and why? It’s not the stiff, shoulders back, chest out manikins you see, because our bodies are different. We’re each subtly unique, which is the problem with solutions to ‘fix’ posture to be “correct“.

Your posture might not be good, but it’s probably balanced…. FOR YOU.

Sitting or standing, walking, or running, watching TV or checking Facebook – if you’re not falling down, your posture is balanced. We’re using muscles and leveraging joints to stay vertical. So, the question becomes: What do we see when objectively looking at an individual with functionally stronger posture? Towards vertical is good, but perfectly straight may not be right for that body.

Patient Posture Perception

Which brings us to the more important question- what does it feel like to you? When you try to sit or stand with good posture, does that align with what someone else sees when looking at you? Researchers who objectively aligned people to “ideal” sitting posture found perception didn’t line up with reality. Statistically significant differences were shown between someone’s perception of good sitting posture, and when someone physically and objectively aligned them into “good posture”?.

Also, and not surprisingly, most people’s habitual sitting posture appears far worse than the posture they assumed for the moment they focused on “good” posture.

These are two elephants standing (or sitting or walking around) in the room of posture:

Awareness and uniqueness. 

Our internal body awareness, and the actual patterns in which we’re aligning of our body mass in space, are not the same. To function, our physical body must balance- otherwise we fall down.

Posture is Unique

Here’s the bottom line. Everyone’s posture is subtly unique because bodies are shaped differently, and so they balance subtly differently. Which is why improving posture begins with connecting the feeling of “better posture” with how things are truly aligned, the objective reality of things function, the physics of biomechanics.

The core of biomechanics is the core… the muscles connecting and controlling the top of our body that sees and manipulates our environment, with the pelvis and lower extremity that gets us around. The key to functionally stronger posture is connecting our body perception more accurately to reality and engaging accurate core control.

And the best way to begin is by focusing on each body mass, and focusing your attention to something objective, something external to your body. Beginning with how your balance your body.

Controlling body balance towards vertical is the beginning of looking at posture because posture is less about how it looks, and more about how it feels and functions. Appearance is a measurement, but we need to look at how that connects to function and control. (Dr. Steven Weiniger)


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