By Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© November 2018, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
Learning about human postures is a very interesting subject. Here is an introduction to this large topic.
ASPECTS OF POSTURE
1. Posture can be a compensation for weakness of the muscles or the body, in general. This is a common cause of bad posture today.
When the body is weak, certain muscles are used incorrectly to hold the body upright and this alters normal posture.
2. Tall people sometimes hunch over in order to fit in, or to work in cramped locations.
3. Chiropractic problems can cause many postural problems, and the converse is also often true.
A person may hold a certain posture to avoid pain, or because they simply cannot stand up straight due to subluxations of the spine.
4. Some women hunch over to hide their breasts. Large breasts can also cause poor posture due to their weight. Occasionally, a badly-fitting bra can affect posture.
5. Adhesions definitely affect posture. Over time, bad posture also contributes to adhesions. For details about this important subject, read Adhesions.
6. Bad habits of sitting, standing, sleeping, carrying a purse on one shoulder, and possibly other habits can cause bad posture.
7. OneŐs attitudes can affect posture. For example, a person with low self-esteem may not feel confident standing up straight. Arrogant people may stick out their chest in an abnormal way.
8. Traumas such as accidents, injuries and psychological traumas definitely affect posture. The direct cause of the bad posture can be mechanical, biochemical, psychological or perhaps other. For example, intense fear often leads to a cringing posture. Other types of trauma can lead to a torqued or twisted posture.
4. Copper toxicity and zinc deficiency are associated with scoliosis and perhaps other postural abnormalities. Copper affects the bones and the connective tissues such as the tendons and ligaments that hold up the body.
5. Toxic metals often affect the posture. They can damage the kidneys, for example, which leads to a need to bend the body forward, often seen in older people.
6. Postures can either yang or yin, or some combination. Yang is more closed, hunched, full and/or compressed. Yin postures are more open, arched, empty and/or extended. This might include a sway back, for example.
The spinal column is a tensegrity structure. This term was coined by R. Buckminster Fuller and means a structure that combines tension and compression elements in special ways to give it a lot of strength and flexibility with low weight.
Experts differ somewhat as to how the human frame should look. Perhaps there are different perfect postures for different personality types. However, most agree that:
- The muscles should be relaxed,
- The head erect and straight,
- The ear, the shoulder and the hip should be more or less in a straight line.
- The back should not have a torque, or twist, and should be straight, not scoliotic (sideways curved) nor too kyphotic (bent over). The lumbar and cervical curves should be visible.
- The hips should be neither forward nor back, nor too open or too closed.
- The chest should be rounded, but not overexpanded or collapsed.
- The shoulders should hang down, and slightly rounded – neither too high, or too straight, or too rounded.
- The feet can point inward a little, but not outward.
- The arches of the feet should be a normal height, neither too high or too low.
TYPES OF ABNORMAL POSTURES
Most peopleŐs posture is not that good. This section describes the most common types of postures that one sees, and some of the causes for them.
1. Cringing posture. This is more yang and not sexy. This can be due, at least in part, to Ňbreaking the neckÓ, a maneuver during a rape that damages an intervertebral disc in the neck, usually on the left side.)
2. Open posture. ( includes sway back and a large or bulging chest). This is more yin and sexy.
3. Hunched posture or kyphotic. This is related to the cringing posture, but can be caused by other factors such as osteoporosis, rape, height over about 6 feet on earth, or perhaps other diseases.
4. Bent or scolosis. This is common in taller people, and those with high tissue copper.
5. Extended posture. (often a dancer). This is a more expressive posture. Think of a ballet dancer with pointed toes.
6. Torqued or twisted posture. This is a yin posture, seen commonly in tall people and those with copper imbalance. Scoliosis is always present to some degree.
7. Narrow body posture. This is often due to nutritional deficiencies. Weston A. Price, DDS wrote about it extensively. The dental arch is narrowed, as are the shoulders and hips.
8. Upward-moving or uptight posture. This is usually due to trauma in early childhood. The shoulders are stuck in a raised position, and chest is usually collapsed (pigeon breast), and the hips are often closed and stuck in a forward position. This is related to and similar to a cringing posture, but does not involve the neck as much.
9. Sagging posture. This is a more yin, general weakness of the body. It is not seen as commonly on earth.
10. Fighting posture. (as taught in TŐai chi and other martial arts). This is not a normal posture, and must be learned in a martial arts class with a good teacher. The entire spine is relaxed and slightly rounded in a concave way, including the neck. This transmits subtle energy downward most easily, enabling a person to resist attack better, and to fight back better, as well.
11. Reduced lumbar and neck curves. This is a common posture, seen in short people, and in many who are uptight and possibly cringing.
12. Tall personŐs posture. Tall people are often embarrassed by their height. They tend to hunch over, and to have flatter feet, which reduces their height, as well. The hunch is usually just in the upper back, not the whole spine.
13. Short personŐs posture. Short people often have good posture in an attempt to stand up taller. Some have the expanded chest and hips open to look bigger and more threatening. The feet may also turn inward to give the person a little more height.
14. Thyroid type posture. (usually a slow oxidizer). This is a tall, slender build, usually with a more linear shape.
15. Adrenal type posture. (usually a fast oxidizer). This is a shorter, stockier, thicker body.
16. Knock-knee posture (usually bone problems such as rickets).
17. Stuck in sympathetic dominance. (compression of the spinal sympathetic nerves of the lower back and neck and upper thoracic area.
18. Flat feet. (can be part of the tall personŐs posture, or can occur by itself as a muscle and tendon weakness or some other compensation.)
19. Collapsed. The tissues are flaccid or weak, leading to a relaxed, but exhausted look to the body. This posture is associated with copper toxicity, nutritional deficiencies and psychological depression or other mental and emotional problems.
20. Body shapes. These include:
A. Apple shape (large trunk and thin arms and legs),
B. Pear shape (most weight low on the body with thin arms and heavy legs and hips)
C. Linear body (progesterone-dominant shape and often more closed hips).
D. Curvy or voluptuous (higher estrogen in relation to progesterone and usually an open posture).
BENEFITS OF POSTURAL CORRECTION
Some people believe that postural correction is too much work. However, correcting the posture is well worth the effort and expense. It can:
1. Improve balance
2. Prevent some falls, some of which are fatal.
3. Enhance oxygenation of the body.
4. Enhance nutrition and metabolism
5. Enhance self-esteem greatly as one looks better and feels better
6. Enhance athletic performance and even performance of simple tasks such as getting out of bed properly.
7. Prevent muscle strains and pulls.
8. Prevent and correct aches, pains and disability.
9. Prevent some medical emergencies and surgeries.
10. Extends life, in most cases.
1. Retracing. As one heals the posture, at times it will bring up old traumas, memories, feelings and thoughts. This is normal, and should not be a concern. The feelings and thoughts will pass.
2. Uneven correction. This can be a serious problem when correcting a personŐs posture or structure. One side, for example, or one part of the body may let go, while another holds on tight.
This pinches nerves, stretches muscles, and unbalances ligaments, all of which can cause pain. There is no way to prevent it completely. The only answer is more exercises or use of machines or professional chiropractic or other therapies.
3. Importance of a multi-faceted approach. In my experience, postural problems often require several types of therapies in order to heal the best and at a rapid pace. In almost all cases, nutrition, structural work, exercises and visualization are all helpful and often needed.
4. The time factor. Undoing some postural problems takes a number of years, even with a complete nutritional balancing program and professional help. This is the nature of the body structure. While some imbalances can go away quickly, one must plan for a long-term process. In particular, unraveling tight muscles and even moreso, stretching out adhesions is a very slow process.
METHODS OF CORRECTION
1. Nutritional balancing. This is extremely helpful for correcting all postural problems. It does this by renourishing the body, removing toxic metals, balancing the chemistry, and making the body more yang when it is too yin.
In addition, procedures such as the red heat lamp sauna, foot reflexology, the spinal twist and the pushing exercise are very powerful for correcting many imbalances at deep levels. Many of our clients report drastic improvements in their posture using just this program.
2. Exercises. Be careful with exercises of any kind. Some will change posture, but can impose new tensions on the body. This is a problem with yoga and physical therapies of all kinds.
Yoga and pilates. I do not recommend most yoga, as it is often too strenuous and often cause soft tissue damage by overstretching some ligaments. Never bounce with yoga, and preferably do not use it except for very gentle, restorative yoga. The same is true for pilates, which is a little better than traditional yoga.
The neck pull. This is somewhat dangerous, but can be very helpful for some neck and back problems. For more on this exercise, please read The Neck Pull on this site.
Stretching exercises. Be careful, as it is easy to pull muscles and tear ligaments with these exercises. Only do these very gently.
Relaxation exercises. These can be helpful in conjunction with the other methods discussed in this article. By themselves, they are usually not that effective to correct the posture.
3. Visualizations. Very helpful is to visualize a string or wire holding up the head and the rest of the body hanging down like a limp puppet from this string. I think this is the best visualization for excellent posture, although there are others. The martial arts fighting stance is also fairly good, but hard to maintain easily and hard to visualize.
Visualizing while walking slowly and deliberately is an excellent postural exercise.
4. Inversion table. This device is very helpful to gently stretch out the spine and assist the posture.
5. Other machines or tables. There are other devices that some people like, such as an arched padded metal device that one lays in, to help relax and stretch the spine. The chi machine is another that may help some postural problems.
6. Sleeping without a pillow, on your back. Sleeping on the stomach is always bad for posture. Sleeping on the back without a pillow is usually best for posture.
7. Other professional therapies. In some cases, other methods of postural correction are helpful and perhaps necessary. These include Rolfing, structural integration, massage, chiropractic, emotional release, movement therapies, and physical therapy.
Be careful with physical therapy because it can impose a different posture using muscle tension. This works quickly, but leaves the body with a new set of tensions, in most cases. The goal should be to release tensions, adhesions and imbalances, not impose new ones.