I bet one of the first things you think of when you hear the term “posture” has something to do with how you are standing or sitting right now. I bet some of you even straightened up a bit when you read the title.
“Sit up straight” is something that many of us have been told for years but it may not have the exact effect you think it does.
Let me make a few things clear about posture:
- Posture is nothing more than a position.
- There is no such thing as a “good” or a “bad” posture.
- The true enemy is lack of movement.
It is true that posture has an effect on how well your joints are able to move while in that position. For example, sitting in a slouched position changes the relationship between the shoulder, shoulder blade and spine compared to sitting upright and can make lifting your arm significantly more difficult from a joint mechanics and muscular perspective (Finely & Lee, 2003). We call this movement organization which describes the relationship between the parts (ie. the shoulder joint) of a system that are attempting to produce a movement.
That is not a problem. Your body is doing exactly what it is supposed to do.
The problem arises when you spend all of your time in the same position… no matter what that position is. Sitting upright with “neutral” posture all day long is still going to have negative effects on your body over time. The body will actually modify its connective tissues (tendons, ligaments, bones, cartilage, fascia, etc.) to optimize itself for the position you spend the most time in. By nature, you will start to have difficulty getting into positions or performing movements that fall outside of the posture that you spend the most time in. Rebekah Grube dives deeper into the science behind this in her article Stop Stretching and Start CARs’ing.
So, if having “good posture” is not the solution to the posture problem, what is?
You MUST expose your joints to more intentional movement through the day PERIOD.
Intentional movement is the ultimate posture “hack”.
Your joints are filled with sensory nerves – they tell the brain what the joint is doing and what it needs. If you are sitting still for most of the day, your brain is getting virtually no input from the joints. Therefore, the brain will spend minimal energy in maintaining the tissues of the joints because it sees that they do not have to actually do much of anything. Intentional movement through the joints changes that story. Now the joints are saying to the brain, “hey, we need to build up our connective tissues, so we can continue to safely produce these movements.” The body responds by reorganizing the cells and fibers within the connective tissues to allow more movement and increase resiliency – this is very evident in research (Mackey, Heinemier, Koskinen, & Kjaer, 2008; Kjaer et al., 2009; Mobasheri, Carter, Martin-Vasallo, & Shakibaei, 2002). To accomplish this, we leverage a method called Controlled Articular Rotations (which is more deeply discussed in Rebekah’s article linked above).
As you become more aware of your joints, the way you hold yourself (posture) will probably change for the better because the brain always picks the safest and most efficient way of doing things (including sitting at your desk).
Remember these things:
- Your joints need movement input regularly throughout the day.
- Movement input needs to be to the outer limits of your range of motion.
To see how you can inject more intentional and beneficial movement into your joints while at your desk, so your body will adapt to many different postures, please check out the video in our uCern blog.
Other Resources for you:
- Mobility workshops found on https://healtheatcernerportal.cerner.com/ --> my progress & plan --> wellness workshops --> manage workshops. Look for Motion Health workshops for total body cars, and the upper extremity, lower extremity, and spinal mobility series.
- Appointment with an Athletic Trainer (like me)! Schedule an appointment for an evaluation of any stiff or painful areas and to receive specific exercise interventions. Can be scheduled at Healthe at Cerner.
- Motion Capture. Have your movements objectively measured and provide an action plan to start improving your movement. Can also be scheduled at Healthe at Cerner.