Today, I read a New York Times article about how posture affects one's emotional state, physical health, and self-esteem. The solution that is offered is simply to do strengthening exercises for the back, core, and buttocks. In reality, the answer is not that simple (if it were, back pain and bad posture would be non-existent). What this article fails to address is the root cause of most poor posture. Hanna Somatics provides this missing link information. I recently wrote this blog post about posture and how Hanna Somatics teaches you to improve your posture - or better said, "efficient balance in the center," and relieve your back pain for the long-term.
Step 1: Be aware of your habits
The first thing you need to do is to become aware of your current postural, movement, and emotional habits. Do you use a computer, hold a bag or purse on one shoulder or sit for hours at a time? Are you frequently stressed or fearful? Just take note.
Step 2: Learn how your habits create Sensory Motor Amnesia
Your brain controls your muscles, movement, emotional responses, and the way you habituate to the stresses of your life. Sensory Motor Amnesia presents as full-body patterns of muscular tightness. Whatever you do consistently becomes a habit - your brain's new "normal" - and you lose conscious awareness. This is when slumped posture and back pain arise. This also affects your emotional and psychological state, and self-esteem.
Step 3: Find your optimum posture
This doesn't mean simply standing straight or sitting with your feet planted on the floor. You need to restore your ability to sense and fully control your muscles to contract and relax by first retraining your brain - the control center of your body - through pandiculation and Hanna Somatic Exercises. This is a process of education, the same as learning to ride a bicycle or play the piano. You will learn body and emotional awareness, and learn to release tense muscles, which will help you to create physical comfort from the inside out.
4 Common "Bad" Postures (and their causes):
- Hunched shoulders and tucked pelvis - slumping in seat, frequent computer use, emotional response to worry and fear
- "Text neck"/Forward neck - tilting head downward to use handheld device or nurse/feed an infant, straining to see computer screen
- Uneven weight on feet - compensation due to an accident, injury or surgery, holding baby on one hip, one-sided repetitive tasks
- Forward hip tilt/Arched lower back - common in Type A personalities and active individuals, emotional response to high-stress situations
Try a few Somatic Exercises to help release tight back muscles and improve posture.