Dr. Joshua Pickell: Relaxing into Good Posture
It is commonly thought that your posture is the position that your body is in. If you have poor posture, you are told to sit up straight and pull your shoulders back. But when you stop thinking about it, you slowly hunch over again. We all know that good posture is better for your health and looks attractive, but it can be hard to figure out a way to hold a comfortable, ideal posture without constantly thinking about it.
After working with thousands of patients, I have a more nuanced view of posture. Good posture that lasts cannot be forced, but rather, the body needs to relax into it. Posture is a window into a person’s structure and gives us a glimpse of how that structure stores tension. Many people blame poor posture on tight or weak muscles, and while there is an element of truth there, it is incomplete.
Something that blew my mind while studying anatomy is the concept of biotensegrity. Our bodies aren’t actually held up by bones stacking on bones. Bones don’t even touch each other – they are separated by cartilage, fluids, synovial tissues, and a bit of space for them to move. Our bones are suspended in a soft tissue matrix of muscles, tendons, ligaments, discs, and fascia. They float in our bodies and are held up by tension balanced among our different contractile elements, such as muscles, ligaments, tendons, and fascia. This is biotensegrity, which describes how our architectural pieces (bone) are pulled and held upright by tension rather than stacking on each other like a building. When tension is balanced throughout the body, we can easily hold a posture that looks good.
If you ask your body to do the same thing over and over, it will get more efficient at that. If someone “practices” poor posture for a long time, the brain gets fooled into thinking the poor posture is normal.
Good posture is attractive because it suggests that there is ease in the body. Conversely, when we have a pattern of tension in the wrong places, it can pull us into non-ideal and contracted postures. When we hold poor postures for a long time, there are physical changes in the body. Bones grow into joint spaces (arthritis). Muscles become weak and overstretched or become tight and spasm. Fascia gets sticky and our movement feels and looks awkward and painful, discs can bulge, nerves and organs compress, and so much more.
Our nervous system gets confused because the more we repeat something, the more efficient the nerve firing sequence controlling that behavior gets. That’s why when you practice a new skill, or study for an exam, you get better and faster the more you practice. Your nerves build more connections in specific pathways in anticipation of future use, for efficiency purposes. This is all based on demand. If you ask your body to do the same thing over and over, it will get more efficient at that. If someone “practices” poor posture for a long time, the brain gets fooled into thinking the poor posture is normal. The longer this is the case, the more those pathways get reinforced, which means it takes more time and effort to re-train the body.
Knowing all this, the question becomes how do we get our bodies into a state of ease so we can relax into a good posture? How do we apply this principle of repetition to make sure we can stay in a good posture and not get pulled back into old patterns?
Discover all this and more during my collaboration with ONEYOGAHOUSE over the next few months. ONEYOGAHOUSE founder Anna Haddad will join me to relate your body’s repetitive movement patterns to the yoga practice. Expect interactive components to feel the difference in your own body. Look out for these exciting upcoming workshops!
In these workshops, you can expect to learn about how your body processes experiences and what happens to you when your nervous system gets overwhelmed. This will connect to your posture and why you keep getting stuck in the same patterns. We will explore how your body stores tension and trauma and you will learn how to train your nervous system to become more self aware and able to self correct. The interactive component will help you feel this in your own body, and help you relax into good posture!
About Dr. Joshua Pickell
Dr. Joshua Pickell of Alternative Space Chiropractic is a Chiropractor in Brooklyn serving the community of New York City. He has been committed to helping people improve their health since 2012, when he joined the wellness space by becoming a personal trainer. His passion for helping others has only grown since then.
Since a young age, Dr. Josh has been defined by a belief that the world can be a better place and a desire to make that a reality. He believes that a better world can be created by healing each individual. When people are in pain, they suffer. This takes something away and holds them back from reaching their ideal. If everyone heals and becomes their best, there will be much less suffering and more harmony and peace in the world.