“Posture” often creates a vision of standing straight. For many, posture recalls such memories as, “My mother always told me to stand up straight,” or “In ballet they made us stand with a book on our head.” A more frequent comment is, “I know my posture is bad but this is the way my aunt, grandmother and brother stood and walked, that’s why I do.”
People often suggest someone stand up straight because slouching detracts from his or her appearance. People seem to know that posture is an unconscious expression of how we feel about ourselves.
The truth is that posture isn’t just about standing straight. Standing up straight feels rigid. It is rigid. It is also difficult to accomplish. Posture is dynamic and is the basis of all movement. Sound posture exudes balance and poise (as well as preventing injuries and degeneration of joints).
Our overall physical and mental health depends on sound posture.
Posture affects mood, and mood effects posture.
Posture influences all physiological functions of our body, including respiration, digestion and circulation. These functions require postural stability, especially when we have to exert vigorous physical effort.
The significant impact posture has on health is a reminder of a quote from Hippocrates:
Preservation of health is a duty . . . Few people seem to be conscious of such a thing as physical morality.
With rare exception, everyone has the basic ingredient of sound posture—namely, a spine. The spine is made of 26 bony vertebrae allowing one’s head and trunk to rest on the vertebrae. The strength of these vertebrae is said to be twice that of oak. These vertebrae allow us to stand tall. An oak tree reminds us of strength, power and wisdom.
The strength of an oak tree comes from its deep root system. These trees can be battered in a storm, lose branches and leaves, yet not be felled. One’s spine, like the roots of oak, needs to be nurtured. It requires flexible and strong musculature to support it.
Be an oak tree.
Sink your roots into the earth and enjoy natural beauty.
Enjoy the view.
The strength of sound physical posture contributes to strong positive attitudes required when navigating through emotional changes.
Kathi Fairbend, MS RPT
Founder, Physical Therapy for the Mind
Author, Stand Up to Depression