As background, actually, much of our posture and the way we move in various activities are complex processes and beyond conscious control due to the intricate ‘wiring up’ of the human body. Using a crude computer analogy, the ‘software’ – brain, nerves – and ‘hardware’ – muscles, bones, other soft tissues – interact to enable particular programmed postures and movements. When getting up out of a chair or striking that brilliant golf tee shot, we don’t think about the detailed ‘how’ of the movement sequences; we only think about where we want to go as we get out of the chair, or hitting that little white ball down the middle of the fairway to get as close to the hole as possible. As a baby develops, particularly during the first twelve months, their brain software runs an automatic program during which they gain basic posture/movement competence. As parents, we don’t need to teach them how to move; they just think about satisfying their emotional need by using whatever movements their body will allow according to their developmental stage; we are witnessing the gradual development of their anti-gravity system.
As children and adults, posture problems can let us down in a number of ways. Headaches, an episode of neck or back pain/stiffness, a sport ‘injury’ or periodic niggling discomfort can often be the result of faulty posture/movement pattern sequences. While some faults can be related to the body having not developed satisfactory posture/movement quality as a baby or as a result of damage to the body software/hardware due to trauma, most often our habits are to blame. For example, it should come as no surprise that sitting slouched over a laptop or other electronic device day after day eventually takes its toll – technology has made us more mobile, but less active!
For self-help tips, see my response to the question: How can I fix my posture to reduce back and neck pain?
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