For some reason most people think they are standing up straight when they are actually standing in an odd curved pattern that resembles the back end of a parentheses.
Every day I ask people to stand up straight and watch them sink their thighs forward, elevate the ribcage and pull their shoulders behind their hips.
When I stand people up in my version of standing up straight, everyone reports that it feels bizarre and can’t possibly be right.
This is what makes my job fun. And what makes the brain fascinating. What is it exactly that allows the brain to think that posture which causes pain and encourages muscle imbalance is actually good posture?
Unfortunately conventional wisdom holds that standing up straight requires lifting the chest and taking the shoulders back. So that could be a big reason.
I’m not sure when chest up/shoulders back became a dominant image for postural excellence but it is deeply embedded in our brain as a positive. And from my humble perspective it is a key ingredient in an overwhelming percentage of people who suffer from back pain.
Standing poorly while perceiving that you are standing correctly might not be the cause of someone’s back pain, though in many cases it is, this parenthetical pattern can make healing that much more difficult.
Take some pictures of yourself “standing up straight” and then make an honest assessment of your posture. Seeing you as you really are is a necessary first step to change.