Posture correction seems to be a trending topic and it’s no surprise, given society’s increased use of digital devices and sedentary lifestyles, that postural decline is a common finding. Most people wish to sit up straight but a posture correction device is NOT the right answer. Keep reading this blog if you are curious about any of the following: posture correction, fixing posture, bad posture, how to get better posture, slouching, rounded shoulders, good posture, best posture corrector, forward head posture, proper driving posture, will posture cause headaches, and posture for sitting at a desk. 

What is the Proper Posture?

What is the correct posture? Good posture goes beyond simply standing up straight. It’s important to have a basic understanding of what the requirements are, so let’s dive into this. Don’t be fooled by just the front view of what appears to be standing up straight. We have to take into consideration the anterior (front) and lateral (side) views.

Front View Plumbline

Front View Plumb line

Generally speaking, good posture from the front view includes the following structures to be on the same line:

  • Shoulders
  • ASIS (the front on both of side of your pelvis above the groin area)
  • Knees 
  • Ankles  
  • Hands (being by the side and turned neutral, not rolled inward or outward)

Everything can look in line from the front, then you look from the side and it’s a whole different story. From the side view, we use the plumb line to determine alignment; the plumb line is a string with a weight attached at the bottom to create a perfectly straight line. This can be done the old fashion way or digitally but the end result is the same!

The proper posture requires the following points to fall on the plumb line on the profile view:

  • Ear hole

    Side View Plumbline

    Side View Plumb line

  • Mid-point on the ball of the shoulder
  • Mid-point on the ball of the hip where the leg gets connected to the pelvis
  • Mid point of the side of the knee
  • Bony part of the outside of the ankle

The farther we deviate from this natural design, the more pain and overall health problems we experience. Check out this blog on Posture and Health to learn more about how poor posture impacts your health and how your posture is the window to your health. Even though the perfect posture seems unachievable, you want to be as close to perfect health as you can; your lifestyle plays a HUGE role in a postural decline and the next section will get into the no-tool necessary posture correction.

The Best Posture Corrector

There are many products on the market that claim to correct posture. These products claim to work by adding an external cue to fix the problem. The issue with that is, you’re not actually fixing anything and this style of ‘posture correction’ is similar to your mom telling you to sit up straight or walk this way or that way. To achieve true posture correction you need to have an internal cue to be upright, and that can only come from the master coordinator, the brain. Here is what I mean in a nutshell! 

What you need to achieve good posture is already inside of you, so don’t go to things like a posture brace or a zapping device. Not only do these products not work, but some of them can even be more damaging. The posture brace, for example, forces your shoulders into an unnatural position which means the muscles whose job it is to do that function don’t do their job, and your joint is misaligned. This is a great example of negative neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity is the adaptability of the nerve cells and the nervous system to the stimulus it receives. Watch this video to get a better grasp on neuroplasticity and to see how your brain adapts to what you CHOOSE to do daily.

Sitting for long periods of time (which is the story of most people), the part of the Brain (PMRF) that tells your body to sit upright and against gravity does not get to practice its command. After a while, with the lack of use, the message to the brain becomes very unclear and weak! This is a negative neuroplasticity. All of this to say, the best posture corrector is the brain! If your brain starts sending the command to the muscles again, then you’ve actually fixed the problem rather than just putting a bandaid on it. This is accomplished with a combination of Brain-Based Neurology and Posture and Developmental Kinesiology!

A Postural Neurology exam is different from other types of exams in that the parts of the brain that are involved in movement and balance are assessed and the weak parts are identified. Just as negative neuroplasticity can occur, positive neuroplasticity is possible, and by mapping the weak parts of the brain from the postural neurology exam, you can exercise in a way that ups the positive. These exercises are not like the exercises you do at the gym nor a cognitive exercise you may be familiar with and here is how…

How to Get Better Posture

There is a map of your body parts when it comes to movement and sensation called Homunculus; it is something you are born with, becomes more complete at the early stages of life, and is purely influenced by movement and lifestyle. When it comes to us limiting our movements, modifying our movement for worse, or fully eliminating certain biological moves, this map is negatively impacted. Let me explain something before we get into this: we are born with the correct map for movement innately within us. This Biological patterns of movement change based on our lifestyle, injuries, and limitations that are later on brought into our life. The change from biological patterns of movement leads us to the pathological patters of movement where we move but not based on the design of movement we were born with. That means, for instance, we use our neck to initiate the stomach workouts that most do at the gym; we are able to do the ‘ab crunches’ but it is not the lower ab that initiates the move, and no wonder so many end up with a sore neck the next day. The ones with the famous six-pack end up overly stimulating the WHOLE ab. muscle for a move that requires just the lower ab signaling. This is a pathological pattern of movement that proper treatment for posture has to remove.

Working out and adding load to a body that is misaligned and does not follow the proper (biological) patterns of movement will only emphasize the wrong patterns of movement and worsen your issues. If you go to the gym and do overhead lifts with shoulders that sit in a rolled forward position from too much typing, you are now empathizing that unstable position which will likely result in an injury. So what is the solution? Functional Movement is the answer to changing those wrong patterns and this video tells you how!

Functional movement is the ability of your WHOLE body to play a role in the slightest movements. It is the ability of your trunk to stabilize while the legs move you, run you, jump you, and do what they are designed to do. It is the ability of your shoulder stabilizers to stabilize your shoulder blades so that overhead exercise does not end up leading to a rotator cuff tear because the head of your humerus (a ball shape) is not compressed against the socket (shoulder blade) it sits in. 

This does not only apply to people who are active; this involves activities as simple as walking or being able to sit up straight while typing on the computer without your upper body collapsing forward. The form of functional movement that also stimulates the brain to improve posture and function is Developmental Kinesiology. This is how we all developed proper movement as babies and is how we can reestablish those proper movement patterns in adults who are now functioning pathologically thanks to lifestyle factors. The exercise below is just one great example of this. 

For more posture correction exercises like this check out the Functional Movement/Posture Exercises playlist on my Youtube channel. Learn how to use your body effectively, effortlessly, and without any thinking just as you don’t think about blinking yet blink effectively.

Will Posture Cause Headaches

I included this section because if you have bad posture you likely have headaches. While there are many reasons such as dehydration that can lead to headaches, the most common type of headaches is Tension or Cervicogenic headaches meaning the origin of the headache is the neck and associated muscle tension. Lifestyles such as working on your desktop, laptop, phone, and iPad play a huge role in tension headaches.

Essentially these days most Tension Headaches are due to bad posture with the neck being too forward, leading to stress in the neck, the muscles in the back of the head, and upper back. This is referred to as a Forward head posture or Tech neck where  the muscles that stabilize your head over your neck have become overstretched, exhausted and now your head sits in front of your body. Below is a great developmental kinesiology exercise that we use to correct this pathological posture and treat headaches.

If you get headaches and want to learn more about why you get headaches and what you can do to prevent them check out this blog on Headaches and Posture. We do so many things throughout the day that we don’t realize how they impact our movement and posture. In the video below I bring to your attention how your simple drive to work can be a negative or positive neuroplasticity. Once you know the basics of movement, and start paying attention to how you do things, it is only a matter of short time before every simple ‘chore’ becomes an opportunity for conditioning and strengthening your body, and next thing you know, you are not only doing the ‘right’ moves without thinking but you see the improvement in your posture, occurrence of pain and discomfort all while improving your overall health.

Proper Driving Posture

Posture matters all the time, when you exercise, when sitting, when standing and even when driving! There are so many mistakes you can make in a driving posture that can cause neck pain, back pain, headaches, and more. With so many people commuting in traffic every day that’s a big problem. Here’s a great video with all the do’s and don’ts to improve your driving posture and decrease neck pain while driving. 

Posture should not only be addressed when sitting or standing still, but in movement and in your everyday activities. Your posture is the window to your health and like everything else it is at the mercy of the decisions you choose to make in your life.If you wish to learn more about how to improve your posture and sustain good posture beyond the temporary level, visit my Website and Youtube Channel for posture correction, ergonomics, pain relief, and much more. 

Dr. Shakib