the slump

This is an old post, that I’m reposting today because I’ve been incapacitated by a backache. Ugh. Hope you enjoy…

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 visible 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.  


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  • Barbara says:

    Great topic– I struggle with this all the time! My doctor even said that very few of the compression fractures in older people are from injuries. They’re mostly about posture.

  • Great reminder to sit up straight and the picture of those babies is just adorable! I’m sorry to read you’re suffering from back ache and hope you feel better soon! Esther xx

  • Melanie says:

    I hope your back straightens up (so to speaks, heh) soon. Sorry to hear you are in pain. I stand up straight against the wall every time I brush my teeth, so at least 3X a day. When I walk I try to think about brushing my teeth. Love the baby postures!

  • Sandy says:

    I knew the feeling, but I found a resource you may want to explore. You can google for a you tube video on how to sit by Gokhale Method Institute by Esther Gokhale. Let me explain.
    She studied how people in the Eastern continents like Africa learned to walk, sit and stand. In some of these areas, people walk miles carrying heavy things. So, she studied them in their physical habitat to learn about the differences in body carriage while sitting, sleeping and walking. And then she adapted the techniques for people in the west.
    I can now, after some time, sit in a chair and know what to do with the upper body that helps reduce back pain. You will learn how to gradually stack your spine in a natural way. It isn’t what so many people think: being rigid. It’s not about rigidity as much as about making a couple of movements that allow the spine to sit naturally in position. Check it out; it helped me and I’m over 65 with years of bad posture. Hope this helps you.

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