Good posture is balanced posture - where all your joints are in the place they are meant to be. It's what toddlers have. It's what gives us charisma and a sense of 'presence'. It's what makes others take a second look at us. It's what prevents us suffering lots of back and neck pain and headaches. It lifts our spirits when we are depressed or unhappy. It tells others that we are confident and have good self esteem. That's just some of the benefits of good posture.
Why do so many of us look like they are gorillas sloping around the jungle forest! I'm sure it starts before school - when we watch how our parents stand, sit and walk. Of course we want to be just like them and so we copy those unnatural apparently 'comfortable' positions.
Then we go to school, where we sit for hours over desks that are too low, seats that are too high and offer too little support and we slump over the desk resting our chins in our hands. The only thing that moves when we leave school is the hand! Everything else stays there.
One of problems is that our bodies start off perfectly and over time we change our habits. Initially , our bodies complain and we feel discomfort which we ignore as we create strain on every joint and muscle in our body,.
With time we become so used to this unnatural position that it actually becomes what we believe to be 'comfortable'. If someone comes along and suggests we stand or sit up straight, we moan that now we have got a 'broomstick stuck up our bum'!
Slouching or unbalanced posture is damaging, unattractive and sends people all sorts of undesirable messages about you.
So, how do we improve it? To give you the motivation to change may I suggest you have someone take a video of you side on and then front on - and you stand and sit as you normally do. If you don't have a video then stand side on to a mirror and use a little mirror in your hand to see yourself side on. This should terrify you!
Having discovered that you actually look completely different from what you thought you did (especially teenagers) , you need to put your attention on your posture and be constantly aware of how you are sitting or standing.
How to achieve this balanced posture is a four step process. Step one: look at your feet. Are they parallel and 10 cm apart? If not, then change them so they are. Having feet splayed out like Charlie Chaplain is not normal. It gives you flat feet, strains the inside of your knees, turns your hips out in their sockets and slowly damages the lower half of your body.
Step two: imagine you have a clock on the side of your right hip - above the thigh. The 12 is near your ribs and the 6 near your thigh. Most people stand with their bum stuck out at 8 o'clock It's a bad habit and we urgently need to learn to rock our pelvis forwards towards 4 o'clock and keep it there so we can stop the tremendous strain on our backs.
Step three: imagine your have a sash window in your stomach - one where the window is opened by pushing vertically upwards. You need to 'open the window' to have balanced posture. The way most of us stand jams the window as tightly closed as it can be - so 'open the window' by gently lifting your chest away from your stomach and keeping your shoulders relaxed. Breathe normally as you do this.
Step four: while maintaining the position of the first three steps, lightly clasp your hands behind your bottom and gently stretch them towards the floor. This opens up your chest and keeps yoru shoulders relaxed.
Then release your hands keeping everything else in this new position - you will look terrific - even though you'll probably feel awful! To confirm how good you look - go back to the mirror or take another video. you'll be stunned at the difference - in how you look and feel. Back pain , neck pain , headaches and big guts may become a thing of the past.
Initially you may be aware of muscles you had forgotten you had - but they will soon adapt because they are doing what they were designed to do. You may even find that if you return to your usual slouch, it will hurt! That's when you know you've reached a new balance - both posturally , physiologically and maybe even psychologically.