There’s a funny story related to this phrase. Many years ago now, when I was a budding dancer and aerial circus performer I was at a workshop and the instructor was talking to us all about posture. She was relating it to being on stage, being a dancer, being a performer, and the importance of carrying yourself well on stage.
She went on to explain how this can actually encourage something that she called “fake good posture.” As she described the elements that make for a classic ‘fake good posture’ I knew right away that I was a pretty good example, and I wasn’t missing her nods in my direction either.
Interestingly my posture has improved as I get older (yes, that is possible!) Who knows exactly why I developed poor posture as a kid, maybe from copying my mothers’ posture, or maybe from being tall and shy. Either way, there I was in my early 20s and I was totally faking it.
Okay, so what exactly is fake good posture you may be asking? Fake good posture is basically what happens when someone with poor posture momentarily tries to stand up straight. They may look uncomfortable, or suddenly have a strange grimace on their face. Usually, the lower spine will go into an excessive sway back position and the muscles of the back will be working exhaustively to try to maintain a tall spine.
Ugg, are you tired yet? Ready to relax back to what feels comfortable? In this day and age, it has become the rare individual who exhibits a natural, effortless posture and they tend to stand out in the crowd as a person who exudes graceful confidence and ease.
Joseph Pilates is known for saying, "your only as old as your spine is flexible" and there are a few different reasons why this is true. For one, if you have a stiff spine then your only stab at good posture will likely be “fake good posture” In other words, it’s not a terrible thing to slouch some of the time, it’s only a bad thing when our spines become stiff and stuck in that position.
Secondly, all of your nerves come out of your spine... so if your spine is not strong and flexible then you could be at risk for things like sciatica, tingling down the arms or legs, chronic pain, or general physical tension and stress. Not to mention osteoporosis, building disks, or hairline fractures (not trying to scar you too much here!)
Finally, all of the internal organs like the lungs, heart, and digestive system all orient to the space they have within which to operate. If we slump and slouch all the time then our digestive tract literally has less room to operate, and our lungs can't take in as much air. Can I get some O2 here?
Obviously, this is not going to help anything when it comes to overall health and longevity. So what’s to be done?
How do we seek that illusive effortless movement of a tall and graceful posture? Well, the good news is that if you think you might have fake good posture then you’ll be glad to hear that it might actually get easier to stand up straight as you genuinely improve your spinal health. After all, it shouldn’t feel exhausting and hard, so that is something to look forward to!
Are you ready to take the first step?
The first step is to have an honest conversation with yourself. A healthy spine is really important for all aspects of health, and it can impact the health of our kids as they mimic our movements and habits. Look in the mirror at your posture and be honest if it feels like you're faking it when you try to stand up tall. If there’s room for improvement then the next step is to do something about it!
The next step after that is to evaluate your fitness and exercise routine (or lack thereof) and try to set a realistic goal of incorporating 10-15 minutes of healthy, posture-improving movement on most days. It doesn’t have to be every day, but most days. Another way to say this is more than half of the days. You get my point. Pretty soon you might actually look forward to it, especially when you notice that you are literally taller afterward!
If you need help getting started with a personalized home workout program then I highly suggest my introductory package of 3 private sessions. With 3 private sessions, you can have your spine and posture assessed by an experienced professional, and your home program tailored to something that will work with your schedule and lifestyle! You might even be able to do your postural stretches while you’re walking the dog or enjoying your garden!
Click here to schedule your free 25-minute consultation today!
In Movement and In Stillness,