Perfect Posture Part 2: Breathe Fully

breathe fullyOn the macro level I have a lot of opinions about the way we stand and walk that are contrary to many commonly held beliefs. I think that we shouldn’t thrust our chests forward and pull our shoulders back which many people think is an essential part of good posture. I am very anti-pelvis tucking which is what gets taught in an overwhelming majority of exercise classes.

On a micro level most people agree with me when I describe how the body is meant to work. For instance, I think that the design of the body is such that when we breathe in and out the entire trunk should be involved and the belly should distend ever so slightly when the diaphragm muscle descends on the inhale. But when I ask someone to pay attention to how they breathe, they’ll notice a tendency to expand and lift the chest as the primary action.

The majority of people I meet and work with are chest breathers due to poor posture—the alignment of the spine interrupts the diaphragms ability to descend. In order for the breath to move through the whole trunk most people need to bring the front of the ribcage down a little to create the necessary space for the diaphragm to drop. Unfortunately people don’t always like the place that this adjustment lands them.

The essence of good posture is a search for balance between flexion and extension. We tend to be very tight in the back of the body and loose in the front. If this is the case the adjustment I described to let the body breathe fully is easy to accomplish at the front but difficult at the back of the body where trying to lengthen can cause strain on the head and neck as well as the brain. Perception is very powerful as well because if people think that they look bad in some way they won’t want to do it, even if they don’t actually look bad.

Posturally, you can have your cake and eat it too if you are willing to commit to opening the back of the body and creating an environment where you breathe fully. The design of the body is to breathe fully and everything else should be secondary to that goal. Find the full breath and rearrange your body around that.


Perfect Posture Part 3: The Arms Hang
Perfect Posture 1: Butt Gripping is Bad For You