Posture – The Good, The Bad and the Caveman
What’s it got to do with Caveman???
Our Posture is the result of how we use our body.
Our posture is also the result of how our ancestors used their body…
Resulting in our bodies developing, over millennia, into the fantastic machine we have today. Or rather, into caveman – when I think our adaptation into modern man ‘peaked’. But the way we use our body today is nothing like what it’s designed for.
Modern day living generally means doing one job, repetitively, over and over again. Now think back to Caveman – if he was doing one job, (and the biggest job I can think of would be cutting up a mammoth) then, even though this is ONE task he would constantly be changing his position and therefore using different parts of his body.
THIS is how our body is designed to work. It can work hard, but it needs to keep moving, using different muscles (or at least the same ones in different ways) so that they don’t get tired.
Much of twenty-first century living is done with our arms out in front of us (like the position I’m in typing this blog up or, likely, how you’re sitting reading this). This means the muscles in the chest are used more, they then accommodate and become stronger.
WARNING – Biology Lesson Ahead!
Do you remember antagonistic pairs?
No? (I must say, neither do most people.)
They are muscles that act opposite to one another. The easiest example is your biceps and your triceps: in order to bend your elbow you need to contract your biceps. But if your triceps is still holding on, then you’ll simply stiffen your arm. What actually happens when you bend your elbow is you contract your biceps AND relax your triceps. And this happens as a reflex – it’s automatic, and this happens throughout your body.
What impact does that have on my posture?
It means, that, as mentioned above, 21st century living causes stronger chest (pectoral) muscles. Resulting in that antagonistic reflex telling your back muscles to relax; allowing your shoulders to come forward. Your pec muscles tighten even more in order to hold you steady. And again tell the back muscles to relax. The whole thing then keeps going round and round in cycles: back relax, pec tighten, back relax…
You get the picture?
Why is this a ‘bad’ posture?
If your posture isn’t great it means your muscles work harder simply to keep you upright. Let alone when you ask them to DO something for you. So, they ache more and tire more quickly.
It means that the muscles can’t run in the bone grooves and ligamentous tunnels that are designed for them. So, they get rubbed, worn and irritated. Eventually they can even tear or snap. OUCH!
On a more day to day front, you look less attractive, like you carry more weight (fat) than you do and you look shorter. Now, who’d want that!?
So, how should I stand? What is ‘Good’ Posture?
OK, well good posture means that all your muscles, joints and tendons can work they way they’re meant to. They don’t want the stress of having to any extra work (like holding your shoulders steady). They simply want to do the job they’re designed to do, with ease.
So, your ideal posture is one where all your muscles can do this.
Looking from the front, you are even on both sides, your left and right sides are mirror images of each other.
Looking from the side is a little more in depth, but check the picture of the man, above.
When standing upright and facing forward, a plumbline hanging from the ceiling should pass through the hole of your ear canal, the middle of your shoulder, the middle of your hip, slightly in front of the middle of your knee and then through the middle of your ankle bone.
Obviously this is for when you’re standing, but the majority goes for when you’re sitting too.
So how do you fare up?