Category: Posture

Stand up straight with your shoulders back… once you are ready.

Have you read Jordan Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life? If you haven’t, it’s worth a read (or two, yes… it’s that good).

A few weeks ago I was discussing it with one of my clients, specifically the first chapter titled ‘Stand up straight with your shoulders back.’

My client is a business executive who oversees a team. He expressed his frustration with wanting to follow the author’s advice because as much as he tried to maintain good posture through the day, he was unable to do so. 

You see, good posture is essential for him given his leadership role. It is a critical part of non-verbal communication and it also has a positive mental & physical impact on the subject and the people around them.

Consider this excerpt from an article titled ‘Power Posing‘ published on Psychological Science.

“Humans and other animals express power through open, expansive postures, and they express powerlessness through closed, contractive postures… In short, posing in displays of power caused advantaged and adaptive psychological, physiological, and behavioral changes, and these findings suggest that embodiment extends beyond mere thinking and feeling, to physiology and subsequent behavioral choices.” 

Amazing, right? There’s an added benefit to the power boost that you get from good posture, which is that it makes you more attractive. That’s right!

In a speed dating test, scientists found that people tend to be more attracted to individuals who display their bodies expansively. As Dr. Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk, a professor at University of California at Berkeley, and the corresponding author of the study explained: 

“Given these very short scenarios, humans are more likely to rely on their instincts to make judgments; based on our research, it appears that humans are likely perceiving social dominance and openness through body postures and using that information to say ‘yes’.”

I explained to my client that failing to sustain proper posture is a common problem for people who have been working desk jobs for a while. It’s not laziness, a lack of commitment or a character flaw, it’s just a byproduct of the type of work that he does. Simply put, his muscles had become too weak and stiff to hold a straight position for any long period of time.

If you’ve had the same issue, please take this advice to heart; in order to maintain good posture, first you have to be intentional about training and stretching the right muscles. There is some posture correction work necessary. Eventually, you will have the strength and the flexibility to “stand up straight with your shoulders back.”

Allow me to unpack this a bit more…

Posture is the way your muscles and bones hold your body erect. The prolonged position of your body will influence the type of posture you will have. You know you have ideal posture when you meet the following:

Standing Posture:

— Your chest is open and broad 

— Your weight is centered over your feet

— Your chin is parallel to the floor

— Your head rests over your shoulders

— The top of your shoulders are stacked over your hips

— You maintain a neutral spine

Sitting Posture:

— Your chin is parallel to the floor

— Your shoulders, hips and knees are at even heights

— Your knees and toes are pointing forward

— You maintain a neutral spine

When your body is unable to position itself in an ideal posture position, it will begin to compensate. This prolonged compensation eventually reprograms your healthy posture. It also creates another set of issues, including: affecting your breathing patterns, muscle growth, balance, overuse disorders, and increasing muscle strain. In short, not good. 

Now, improving posture varies from person to person. 

There are no shortcuts and no one-solution-fits-all. Remember that you’ve unintentionally programmed your body to have poor posture, so you are going to have to work for it — preferably with a trained coach who can properly asses your posture and develop a specific plan for your individual needs — in order to condition your body and reprogram your posture. 

At the Happy Factory, we take pride in the 3 P’s system: Posture, Performance, and Physique. If you can demonstrate proper posture, during the performance, along with proper nutrition, you will have a healthy and strong looking physique. 

Working on improving your posture is the type of investment that will yield you benefits for a lifetime. Come in for a consultation, we look forward to meeting and working with you! Let us help you get to a point where you can stand up straight with your shoulders back.