You find yourself sitting at your desk — and suddenly you become aware that you’re slumping, again. Your chest is caved, your head is hanging, and so far forward you might as well be typing with your nose. Or, standing in line at the supermarket, you look at the people in front of you: all slumpers. Then you check in with yourself… slumping! Why?
We’ve all heard about good posture and its many benefits, but we all continue to slump. Slumping seems natural, doesn’t it? Well, in a way it is. A really interesting thing to understand, if you want to do something about your posture, is this: In the womb, our spines are in flexion; we are curled in that really sweet embryonic curve, the one you see on the ultrasound. We remain that way until we’re born. It is only the moment we leave our mother’s body that we open up, so to speak, and extend our spines for the first time. I don’t know about you, but this blows my mind.
Look at these darlings—and check out all that adorable posture can teach us. For one thing their backs are straight because they haven’t yet acquired the curves in their spines that growth, gravity, and time will form—the very curves that give us flex-ibility, that ability to both flex and extend that keeps our spines healthy.
So, the baby went from flexed to extended but she’s going to return to flexed. Because, very soon after we begin to sit up, we begin to do things, things in front of our bodies. Everything we do, we do in front of our bodies, and that curls our spines back towards that embryonic curve. We begin to reach for things, bang on things, crawl. Then eventually we sit in class, eat, read, write (type), and watch TV. We stand and hold children, push baby carriages, cook, clean, sit at our desks for hours. All of these things happen in front of our bodies. Even the act of walking is forward and in front of us.
Think of slumping as our default state, our protective, passive state. Ironically, it’s the state that we’re in while doing many of the “civilized” activities we engage in. The problem is that even though the slump might feel comfortable, the position eventually takes its toll on our bodies.
So, we’re doomed to slump? No! We know there are successful non-slumpers among us. We’ve seen them. They’re beautiful. What is that some have learned to do to counter the tendency to slump? Where to start? Well, that’s for next time…