5 Pillars of Posture

What are they? Why are they so important?

Posture is nature’s way of expressing energy.

Posture, it is something that we can always seek to optimise, but it does take work. If you’re like me, thinking “it is so hard to keep good posture throughout the day how could I possibly work on it?” Sure this is true, but we get more energy, more potential when practising good posture. Whether an athlete, office worker or student, we are more aligned when in good posture. That means all our systems work better. Our breathing is easier and we are most in tune with gravity when more aligned or in good posture. In a nutshell our body doesn’t have to work overtime performing day to day tasks when in optimal posture.

Having good posture doesn’t mean you need to be perfect. Perfection is a myth. With what we put our bodies through day in day out, it is physically impossible to have perfect posture 24/7. What we can focus on are the opportunities throughout the day that enable us to hold different types of posture, ie driving in the car, placing an order at a cafe, speaking with a friend, holding a baby, etc. Being adaptable makes it easier to practise good posture in doses and enables us to train our bodies to start going into different positions. So, the idea is not to be perfect, but to be adaptable. 

“To grow is to change to perfect is to change often.”

Posture isn’t just a fixed position, it’s a movement. Moving in great posture enhances anyones physical potential. Let’s look at military spine for a moment. Having a 24/7 fixed posture has just as many problems as completely slouched, flexed posture. Imagine a soldier standing upright and on guard. That soldier would be holding a fixed position for a period of time and not moving. Posture is a movement. In order to move we need to be adaptable to our surroundings. So we need to have a flexible and malleable spine. Having a stiff spine can cause pressure on either side of the spine increasing the chance of injury.

Another example of a why a military spine or fixed position could be damaging is lifting weights. Keeping a dead straight spine isn’t always going to be possible with weight lifting. Being adaptable means more successful weight lifting and less chance of injury. Pavel Tsatsouline (shown above), the kettlebell master, has such a strong and flexible spine that he was able to deadlift a human lying on the floor by bending over with straight legs, putting his arms under the gentleman, elbows on the floor and lifting him straight up. Now is this possible for everyone to do? Maybe not. Yours and my posture may be different because our bones, joints, muscles and tendons will all allow a slightly different posture, but posture is something that can be worked on and changed.

“Movement is life and life is movement.”

The postures we are putting ourselves in when on technology all day is really harming our health. Posture will change your gait and your gait/posture can both be changed reflexively by your environmental stimuli especially what you’re walking on, the terrain etc. Joan Vernikos studied effects on NASA astronauts of gravity. For every 20 minutes sitting in a chair, it’s hard to get your health back due to its effects. Her book, Sitting kills moving heals, discusses this in further detail.

The average person in the United States has 9.4 hours of sitting a day. If we take an 8 hour work day, we will have to get up 32 times for at least a minute just so we don’t get the lifetime effects of sitting. Regardless of going to the gym or running a 10k after work, this still will not reverse the effects of sitting for 8 hours a day. So as they say, “sitting is the new smoking” or the new term floating around, “death by chair.”

What are the 5 P’s of Posture?

  • Pain Reduction
  • Prevention
  • Performance
  • Psychological Well-being
  • Physical Attractiveness

Why are The 5 P’s of Posture so important?

Posture and Pain Reduction

As human beings we have things called joint receptors which are deep through our muscles, tendons, discs and ligaments. With poor posture many more of these are stimulated rapidly increasing the speed of their firing and as such increasing the sensation of pain. If you have good posture, the likelihood of reducing back pain is significant because these joint receptors are less likely to be stimulated (read this article to find out more about good posture and pain reduction).

Also the lack of quality movement associated with poor posture limits the activation of the positive muscle messages and hormone release that would dull the sensation of these pain stimuli. So, in order to reduce pain, start practising good posture in doses throughout the day. This will start to change the muscle patterns overtime and will increase the ability to hold good posture for longer periods of time throughout the day.

Looking for a place to start?

Why not practise your best superhero pose in the mirror before leaving the house?

This is practising good posture (in doses) and also will give your confidence a bit of a boost!

Posture and Prevention

We can’t load up a faulty structure. Imagine seeing a car that has just got into an accident. It’s taken to the shop to get repaired as it does not run properly. After assessing the car, they give it a new paint job and call the owner to says it’s fixed.

What happens next? The owner comes to pick it up and one of two things will happen: either it doesn’t start or it does start and as soon as the accelerator is pushed to the floor, the car falls apart.

Why are we talking cars when discussing posture prevention? Well, if the mechanic fixed the underlying problem rather than tidying up the exterior, the car would run at its fullest potential. Likewise, performing routine maintenance on the car would ensure it’s continuous performance rather than waiting until it breaks down to get fixed. So when talking about “posture,” it will allow the maximum kilometres from the car and the smoothest most efficient ride possible (not even talking about the fastest).

If we can work on our posture, it can allow for maximum potential in other aspects of life. It can delay things from occurring and let us live at our smoothest ride possible. Check out this article link below where it talks about how the stresses and strains of posture can cause and affect arthritis.

Posture and Performance

As we stated earlier, “posture is nature’s way of expressing energy.” Everything that we do is enhanced when we are aligned and in good posture. Imagine someone playing a musical instrument, a singer, someone making a presentation- all of these require good posture to enhance the performance. The violinist looks incredible and strong while strumming notes. The pianist gently touches the keys and you can feel the power coming from the performance.

Could it be possible to play these instruments with bad posture? Maybe, but I can guarantee that it wouldn’t be as presentable and it may not be as easy to do so. Another example is a singer. It is essential for a singer to have good posture in order to use his/her diaphragm while performing. I can guarantee someone making an office presentation will look more confident, bold and have a clearer mind with good posture. To read more about how posture can change performance, click on this link.

There was a study done by the US water polo team in regards to posture and performance. They decided to take 60 days off the gym with no heavy lifting at all. Before they started this study, they recorded their max lifts. They then spent the next 60 days with Peter Park (a guru sports trainer), author of reBound, who focused only on correcting their postural muscle imbalances, a protocol he calls “The Reset.” During this protocol, he focuses on strengthening their posterior chain or back muscles. If the back is strong conversely we have to be opening our front, meaning less hunching. After 60 days of focusing on posture, all water polo athletes could either still hit their PB’s or beat their personal best! So, in short- LONG IS STRONG.

I jumped at the opportunity last year and did some work with Nam Baldwin in his Breath Enhancement Training. It was amazing what I learned in just a few hours about breathing and having good posture. I also love author Patrick McKewon and the Oxygen Advantage. Both Baldwin and McKewon show that being upright counts. Just like the singer before, it’s easier to use the diaphragm when upright. The diaphragm is able to build core support when in good posture, so its easier to stay upright too!!

In Nam’s training, one of his tricks to teach proper breathing is to breathe through a straw. Nam’s breathing through a straw technique makes us switch on our diaphragm, which is where we want to breathe from. I use this technique when running sometimes and it massively changes the way I perform for the better. To read more about how posture affects lung capacity, check out this article.

In addition to good posture enhancing everything we do, posture also effects jaw development. Having an upward angle between the neck and head opens the space allowing full jaw development. So, again, practise being upright and allow for full development in the jaw and development of the core muscles to make it easier for us to be upright.

If you want some assistance in kickstarting your posture, Dr Tim Brown developed a posture aid called IntelliSkin (shown below). I heard Dr Tim Brown interviewed on the finding mastery and I found his interview very interesting. I’ve never been a big fan of posture braces or taping, but these IntelliSkin shirts are designed as a wearable garment to “teach you” better posture, not to be reliant on it.

Posture and Psychological Wellbeing

WARNING: This may get a bit nerdy.

When we express poor posture it directly impacts the parasympathetic nervous system activity and increases the dulling on the mechanoreceptors, especially through the upper neck and lower spine. Poor posture can decrease the normal positive joint stimulus that activates the “pleasure centres” in the brain. These pleasure centres are responsible for positive moods and well being. Therefore, depression and anxiety are conversely related to poor posture.

So, it might be fair to argue that poor posture CAN cause lower self esteem and depression. Read more here.

On the contrary, if we are practising good posture we will be activating our extensor muscles and therefore will be keeping our head aligned. This increases the sympathetic nervous system and really does help improve our “happiness and wellbeing.”

Amy Cuddy, fantastic author and speaker, talks about how our body language may shape who we are. Check out her book here and her TedTalk below:

Posture and Physical Attractiveness

Dating coach, Chris Shepherd, discusses how posture can make us more attractive. Let’s be honest- you walk into a bar and see two friends next to each other. One is appearing closed off, hunching over a drink at the bar. He’s in daggy clothes, not looking to impress anyone. The other friend is standing up at the bar, talking to people, smiling, standing tall and expressing he wants a conversation. Who would you rather approach?

As Shepherd states, “You’ll be taller, look stronger, your clothes will fit better and you’ll look more confident…” So before you hit up the bar, check out Shepherd’s article below where he gives us his best 6 tips for an improved attractive posture.

If you’re looking for extra icing on the cake to be date ready, The Attraction Doctor, Jeremy Nicholson, says that “being beautiful or handsome is easier than you think.” Why does he think that? Read his article where he delves deep in the 6 areas people should focus on when trying to attract a mate.

Want be CONFIDENT? BOLD? Appear UPRIGHT, PROUD, and LEVEL HEADED?

These are all qualities associated with good posture and a person you’re more likely to be attracted to and to trust.

So, check out our FREE postural eBook- Beautiful. Tall. Proud.

In this frantic paced, modern technical life we have to work on our posture. For me as a chiropractor, yes adjusting your spine can absolutely help. A body that has a nervous system clear of interference will perform at full function. However, if you really want to change you’ll have to do some of the work yourself. You’ll have to practise good posture and do the exercises yourself to really create the change. So download our eBook above and take advantage of our Postural Care Kit today!

Strong Roots = Strong Tree

Enhance your posture now to enhance your tree of life.