Putting Posture in its Place (Guest Post)

Dr. Em

(Dr. Emily Younes is Cate’s chiropractor; she is deeply committed to mobilization and active fitness, as Cate has written about before, so Cate asked her to share some of her expertise with the blog community.)

I will begin with a bold, but very true statement.

There is no such thing as ‘The perfect posture.’ The perfect posture is one that changes.

People get extremely caught up in “posture-shaming” to a very large degree these days. And in order to set the record straight, I’ll begin — like any good scientist — with what we know from the most up-to-date research and literature!

  • Static loading in any sustained position can place a lot of load on your tissues, especially the longer you hold that position – regardless of whether you look as straight as a pin or are re-enacting Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
  • Depending on the length of time you hold those positions, there are structural changes that occur within your tissues and anatomy. Now, these changes are temporary, but they take much longer to recover than people give them credit for in returning to their original state.
  • If NOT given enough time to recover, this can result in a slow, progressive change in the body’s ability to tolerate load and function mechanically.  

It’s one of those things where you don’t realize your body is slowly becoming more susceptible to injury because these changes happen on a molecular level within our tissues (our discs, joint capsules, ligaments, etc.). But this is the raw truth of what happens after holding sustained postures. ANY sustained posture.

Enter stage left: The Age of Ergonomics; where everything “MUST” look “perfect” and be 100% aligned in order to work in the most neutral position a homosapien can hold.

Now, ergonomics is not all bad (despite my sarcasm). And there are some positions that really can put your body in a painful spot where little positioning tweaks can help, especially when managing certain injuries. These changes can be even more dramatic when a person is spending 7-9 hours in those positions (5 min breaks every few hours doesn’t stop that clock) – remember what we said about sustained positions! So, with all that being said, there really are some chairs that help alleviate low back pain temporarily in the workplace. There are certain desktop screen heights that feel better on your neck because you’re not straining yourself as much by looking too far down.

But this does not eliminate the most necessary of take-home points — one that I’ll use good old evolution to bring home.

The human race is a species designed for locomotion and movement. We were hunters and gatherers by nature.

And in the last century or so, we have since morphed into a species of sedentary slouchers. And our bodies ability to bounce back from that can only go so far.  

So, what should we take from this?

Firstly: Motion is lotion. And we are designed for that.

Movement wasn’t intended to be the “supplement” to 8 hours of sitting a day, with a 1-hour workout every (other) day. It’s not what we’re built for! Or, more to the point, what our body needs to recover from that Gollum position that we tend to permanently live in.

Remember, “the Gollum” every now and then is fine. Just like a “straightened-up” posture is fine too. But neither should be held in freeze-mode for very long.

The perfect posture is one that changes.

So, in the pursuit for longevity and future-proofing our bodies, this is something we need to be aware of. And each person’s strategies to overcome this may look different! But the end goal should be the same for our bodies and staying active.    

If you don’t USE it, you LOSE it.

Dr. Emily Younes is an evidence-based Chiropractor with a passion for helping her patients achieve optimal well-being through movement and medicine.

She’s helped hundreds of gym-goers and athletes overcome pain and recover from injuries; while preventing potential future injuries through the use of acupuncture, joint mobility, muscle release, rehabilitation and preventative exercise. She was ranked top female Chiropractor for 2019 in Toronto’s patient reviews site.

Dr. Emily obtained her Doctor of Chiropractic in Toronto; while also completing many additional certifications including Functional Range and Conditioning (FRC®), Functional Integrated Acupuncture (FIA) and Athletic Movement Assessments (AMA®). She has a special interest in traveling to underprivileged countries and giving back; having had the opportunity to travel/treat in Peru, the Dominican Republic and Honduras on Chiropractic Without Borders mission trips. She currently treats in downtown Toronto.