Saturday, July 9, 2011

(Posted to a discussion group)

Dear All,

Since some people have voiced continued support for the term 'Posture', perhaps we should give it another chance to survive.

The problem may not be with the word, rather, the problem may be with the meaning of the word. The word seems to convey different meaning to different people! For some the word means sitting stiffly erect, for some it means chest out and stomach in, for some it means breathing using the upper chest, for some it means breathing using the lower chest, for some it means breathing using the abdomen, for some it means breathing using the back, for some it implies sitting on a low chair, for some it implies sitting on a high chair, for some it means good posture is possible with high heels, for some it means one must be barefooted, for some .....

It is somewhat like trying to define heaven, I am sure everyone will have his own idea of what it will be like. But need we be so helpless in coming up with a proper definition of posture that everyone can agree with?

I have always had this feeling that looking at the mechanics of the human body it is possible to come up with a simple definition, indeed this conviction is what got me interested in the subject 35 years back when I came across Dr. Barlow's book. But alas since I failed to get the required feedback which could back my conviction I had to remain silent.

With my recent conviction that the position of the head is wrong for practically all adults, an idea brought forth in my three blogs:

1) Postural Bias - The Eyes (Dated: Nov 29, 2008)

2) Postural Bias - The Eyes 2 (Dated: Oct 6, 2009)

3) Balance of the Head (Dated March 29, 2011)


... I am now more confident of my conviction, which I have held for the last 35 years.

The key to a definition of good posture lies in Fig 10 of my website www.humanposture.com . Here we see a simple two pan balance, which is morbid when it is unbalanced but comes to life when it is in balance. My proposed definition of Good Posture is:

The body is in good postural balance when the WHOLE skeletal system (backed by strong and appropriate muscular system) can be brought to a state of flux.

This definition becomes a figure of merit to analyse whether head forward position is correct or head backward, whether it is better to sit on a low chair or a high chair, whether it is a bright idea to ties our trousers around our waist .. etc.

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By giving a number designation we provide a qualitative measure for our present posture:

POSTURE 30 .... What most of us will have, since we don't fall flat on our faces

POSTURE 60 .... What a person with good mental presence may have, even though his 'physical posture' is shot to pieces

POSTURE 60 .... The best a crippled person can have, since the natural flow of muscles may become all but impossible.

POSTURE 360 ... Where all the elements come together.


Regards,
Selvaraj


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(A reply to the above mail)

I'm puzzled and intrigued by these ideas.

I'm sure a big problem with the word posture is that different people
will get a different conception from the one word.

I find the 15-degree-max-head-rotation rule on the postural bias blog
problematic. I'm not sure that was one Alexander always followed:
http://www.madelenewebb.com/pages/alexander.html

I also struggled quite a bit with the idea that most people's heads
were usually rotated too far forward. I thought Alexander found that
he was pulling his head back and down, and that preventing this misuse
was a step in solving his difficulties.

I couldn't grasp what an "appropriate muscular system" is - I thought
most people's muscular systems were appropriate, but were often being
employed in inappropriate ways. I don't know what a system of flux is,
nor in which situations it would be impossible to achieve it. "Natural
flow of muscles" is another term I'm not familiar with, nor do I grasp
the 30, 60, 360 thing. Can this be translated this into less ambiguous
language?

Thanks - in confusion,


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(My reply)

1) ... I also struggled quite a bit with the idea that most people's heads
were usually rotated too far forward ....

If we draw a line touching the bottom and the back of the shoulders (lets call this the reference line); and then, draw another line parallel to the reference line which touches the back of the head (lets call this the head line); we will notice that in small children, generally, the 'head line' will be behind the referehttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifnce line. As people grow older this line moves substantially to the front. (Part of the remedy is to shift the visual bias; which has much to do with redesigning our environment and attending to details such as pillows - http://www.useofpillows.blogspot.com/ )

2) .... I thought most people's muscular systems were appropriate, but were often being
employed in inappropriate ways...
http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
The bones in the body are passive elements, the muscles are the active elements. Wrong posture automatically implies that many muscles in the body will be over-developed, many will be underdeveloped, and many in which due to lack of use, the muscle spindles would have got compromised http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F871bBWS4oY . Correcting posture also implies restoring the nervous system which enable actuation of the muscles.

3) .... I don't know what a system of flux is ...

By flux I mean a sort of oscillation (very minute) you can feel (and create) in the body, just like the oscillation of a two pan balance. You can observe the same in small children. With my improving posture I am gradually extending the areas of my body which appear to be in flux. (Dictionary meaning: is 'A flow or flowing')

4) .... "Natural flow of muscles" ...

Same as (2)

5) ... nor do I grasp the 30, 60, 360 thing. Can this be translated this into less ambiguous
language? ...

Just my attempt to remind people, that where posture is concerned, we are barely scratching the surface.

..... In passing I would like to add; much of the complexity of the human musculoskeletal system lies in the ability of muscles acting in groups not only to enable linear rotation but also axial rotation at many joints. The muscleshttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif snake around the body to achieve this effect (which also gives the human body its sexy look). The term POSTURE 360 serves to remind us of this rotation and the freedom it can provide.

Regards,
Selvaraj


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