Fixing Your “Bad Posture”

by Riley Kerr, PT, DPT, ATC

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Raise your hand if you read that title and thought that this might be an article with the five miracle exercises to cure your back or neck pain because you have “bad posture.” If that’s the case – sorry to disappoint, but hear me out! What if I told you that fixing your “bad posture” might be even simpler than an exercise band routine and a few neck Stretches.

Fixing your posture starts with redefining our definition of the word itself. At its most basic, posture is just a position in which someone holds their body when standing or sitting. No position or posture is inherently “good” or “bad.” Unfortunately, our society has ingrained into us the concept of “bad posture” and has promised us countless ergonomic products and treatments that will correct our alignment and cure our pain. But what happens when we force ourselves into a rigid, unnatural posture for hours on end thinking that we have “good posture?”

Here’s what I believe:

Bad posture isn’t the issue. Stillness is.

Sitting upright all day can have the same effect as slouching all day. Striving for the perfect posture can end up being counterproductive if we sit in that one position for too long. The reality is that our bodies are designed for movement and adaptation, and we thrive on variability. Our posture naturally fluctuates throughout the day as we perform different tasks and activities. You’ll hear physical therapists say it all the time, and it’s the truth: Movement is medicine. Motion is lotion. Your next posture is your best posture.

The effects of a negative view of posture go further than just physical – there are also psychological implications. The belief that you have “bad posture” can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Constantly worrying about the alignment of your spine or the position of your shoulders can create unnecessary tension and anxiety, which may exacerbate any existing issues. Our goal should focus less on conforming to an arbitrary standard of alignment and more on moving with ease and efficiency.

At the end of the day, the concept of “bad posture” is not as clear-cut as it may seem. Maintaining good alignment can certainly be beneficial in some cases, but it’s important to recognize that posture is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to overall health and well-being. Our bodies are meant to move. It’s time to adjust our definition of “bad posture” from a single position to a lack of movement.

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