The downside to good posture

Do me a favor. Right now, pause for a second and stand up straight or if you're sitting, sit up straight.

What happens when you do that?

You probably notice that your chest lifts up, your shoulders pull back and you feel taller. That's a good thing, right? Something you should strive for all the time, right?

Not if you'd like your pelvic floor to last you a lifetime. Not if you'd like to have core strength and want to avoid back problems.

What you think you're doing when you stand up straight and what's really going on are most likely quite different.

You think you're actually taking your spine from a rounded forward, slumpy position and making it straight, yes?

What you're really doing is changing the angle of your rib cage and spine by shifting it forward and up. 

Yes, it looks good and yes, it meets our cultural standard for "good" posture but you pay a pretty high price for it over the long run.

Here's what that price looks like:

  • You shorten the back muscles that run between your rib cage and pelvis. Over time those muscles adapt to the lack of length and movement they should be getting which can lead to back problems.
  • You create chronic tension in your abdominal muscles and diaphragm, which means they don't work the way they're supposed to. Core strength and deep breaths, anyone?
  • You increase intrabdominal pressure which is a fancy way of saying you've increased the amount of pressure in your abdominal cavity, pressure that has to go somewhere like down onto your pelvic floor (hello prolapse! hello incontinence!), up into your diaphragm (hello shallow breathing!) or out the front (hello diastasis recti!).

Check out the video below to see a demonstration of this and a simple tip for beginning to correct it. And for those of you holding babies, I've got a special tip at the end of the video.

Now that you're feeling like a hunch back, be sure to include some shoulder girdle and chest opening work into your daily movement.

For more help with this, I also recommend the following Alignment Snacks ($5 downloadable classes taught by Katy Bowman, MS):

Take a load off your chest and your hips too
The back bone's connected to the other back bone
Everybody needs a little shoulder bolster