We frequently hear “I have lousy posture. It’s probably hereditary. My mom slouches, so maybe that’s why I slouch.” You may have even said it yourself.
In Clinical Somatics we see “posture” as the way in which you hold yourself in response to the history of your life: the emotions, falls, stresses, repetitive actions, etc. There is no “perfect posture” and because life is dynamic we want our posture to be as well.
Rather than focusing on alignment we teach Internal awareness and proprioception as the first step to sensing how stress reflexes (red light, green light, and trauma reflex) can pull us off balance and create a distorted internal sense of how our body is connected, how our joints move and what it feels like to stand squarely on our feet.
Achieving efficient and balanced posture is about learning to relax muscles that aren’t crucial to holding you up, while allowing the muscles that need to work to coordinate together in perfect balance and ease.
Which stress reflex might be holding your muscles out of balance?
1. Stand sideways in front of a full length mirror and stand normally. Sense your back muscles and your buttocks. Are they clenched? Is your chin tucked in and your shoulders pulled back? Maybe you sense upper back pain and a sore neck. Maybe your belly is clenched.
2. Open your eyes and notice:
– if your back is swayed, your buttocks clenched, and your shoulders back you are stuck in a “green light” reflex of “go-go-go.”
– If you see your shoulders rolled forward and your head and face forward with your chest slightly collapsed (as if you were at the computer), you are standing in a “red light” posture.
3. Now stand facing the mirror. What do you see? Are your shoulders balanced or is one higher or lower than the other? Are your hips level or twisted/hiked? Do you look the same on the right side as on the left side? If you look like two different people, one side to the other, you are looking at the trauma reflex holding your muscles tightly on one side more than the other.