We Lean Backward Because We Can

People tend to lean backward when they think they are standing up straight.

This is such a crazy thing and to be honest it took me a while to figure it out that this was happening.

And the strange and simple reason why we do this is because we can.

We lean backward

If someone is standing, and they are told to stand up straight or take your shoulders back, or one of the many terrible instructions that are given for posture, what actually happens is we tend to lift the chest and lean slightly backward.

And we do that because we can.

To be a human being is to have a curve in our lumbar spine that allows us to be upright and to walk on two legs; as well as lean backwards and lean forwards. And other cool things like using our hands in myriad ways.

To repeat:

  •  Human beings are the only creature on earth with a curved lumbar spine.
  •  It is what allows us to stand upright.
  •  It is what allows us to ambulate on two legs.
  •  It also allows us to lean backward.
we lean backward because we can

There are other bipedal creatures, but none of them is truly upright. They lean forward to walk or run or can only stay upright for a limited time because their lower spine is flat.

Our ability to be truly upright is due to the curve in our lumbar spine. 

So it’s this curved lumbar spine that lets us be upright and walk long distances, but, because of its curve, it allows us to lean backwards habitually and negatively.

This is a strange bit of business. In general, people are being told they’re leaning forward or they’re slumped over and their posture is poor. And people often think that about themselves as well.

And the ubiquitous remedy is always to say, “stand up straight, take your shoulders back”, which actually makes you lean backwards more. 

We lean backwards because we can, and my life’s work is to get people to stop leaning backwards habitually. 

It isn’t hard to do once you realize that you are doing it.

Good luck with that.