It is a known fact that “Good Posture” is desirable and not just for your looks but also for your mind and body health. Why then are postural issues a widespread happening? So widespread that people all over are spending gazillions of dollars on “Posture Gadgets or Devices”. Can these objects designed to help improve posture and/or reduce related discomfort truly help long term? Given that changing habits is one of the hardest thing to do and we all appreciate all the help we can get, let’s find out the pros and cons that can be expected from these popular gadgets?
There are two main categories of gadgets or devices: the wearable ones to prevent slouching (such as posture braces like the ones above) and those using a device that let you know when you are slouching like the IPosture or the UpRight wearable devices.
Although these objects were created to help people with this rampant posture problem producing lots of discomfort or pain, do they actually do the job beyond temporary help? Less slouching is always beneficial and can relieve slouching related pain and discomfort while making people feel good about themselves for being more consistent with sitting or standing up straight. So in that way, posture gadgets can be a good thing. However, if being reminded that you are slouching is the only solution to your posture problem, it may actually create another problem. How?
Without changing how you manage your slouching habit, you may be turning into a “chronic holder”! For sustainable results without added tension, managing a slouching habit must be a natural whole body happening, not just a muscular correcting pushing yourself upward with your back muscles. See below why that is and rejoice that there is a natural solution to this common issue.
In my experience of 25 years as an Alexander Technique teacher, I have found that your postural mechanism is perfectly well built for you to enjoy effortless postural balance as seen in children. They do not need to be reminded to sit up straight, it happens organically. And they can slouch as well but their slouch is not integrated into their everyday movements. It is just the behavior of a moment in time. That’s why they don’t normally complain of tired backs. That is the key for grown-ups as well. Here below is a child sitting, running and playing in the sand with perfect postural balance without a thought about his posture. It is your birthright to do so as well and you just need to learn a special skill to get back to that place.
As a grown up, being reminded that you slouch is likely to trigger your habitual reaction: your back muscles tense up in order to send the torso up. Only these muscles are not meant to do this job. So naturally, minutes later, they tire and your need to slouch wins over. Does this sound familiar? And if you battle long enough with the desire to slouch thanks to using a device (or for any other reasons), you may just turn into a “chronic holder” which does not serve you either.
The fact is that your body is a coordinated whole made of very intricate relationships which is why you cannot change one part of your body without addressing the synergy of your whole body. This is also why there is more to “Good Posture” than “Proper Alignment” and it has nothing to do with holding yourself up. In fact, thinking of a straight spine as good posture is often the sure way to overdo the back muscles and upsetting the balance of your whole body. It is a form of lifting away from your support instead of releasing into it to go up.
You may not feel perfectly straight, but if you are in a state of expansion and your body functions properly and fluidly as a whole, you may have a better postural balance and enjoy more comfort in your body than when you feel straight but chronically holding tension which is neither comfortable, natural or sustainable. So your idea about “Good Posture” is the first thing to revisit. Then, how you improve your posture without any unnecessary muscle tension is the thing to learn.
Studying the Alexander Technique with a good teacher near you is a great organic solution to learn how to sit, stand and move without unnecessary tension. It teaches you how you can regain ease of movement and your best postural balance naturally. Even though all teachers share the same Alexander principles, each teacher has its own approach to teaching, so finding the right teacher for yourself is essential in the same way you would look for the right teacher in other disciplines.
How can you reeducate your postural balance with the Alexander Technique? It is an experience to have. It cannot be explained accurately in words anymore than you could explain how to swim to someone who never tried. Guidance from a teacher is crucial at the beginning. However, it can be said that you get reconnected to the proper functioning of your postural mechanism which favors expansion over contraction provided you do not interfere with unnecessary muscular efforts.
Once you start this process of discovery and reorganization, using a device to remind you that you have reverted to slouching could be helpful as long as you do not try to correct your posture in your habitual way. Rather learn to handle this slouch as instructed by your teacher which, in essence, will help you to allow your body to handle it on its own. Yes, it is designed to do so! No need to do it the hard way or go the long way around. The Alexander Technique is actually the best kept secret of famous performers and Olympic athletes who swear by it because it helps them reach their highest potential without unnecessary tension.
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