Habituation is the reason why forcing yourself upright will not “fix your slumped posture.
A key theme that underlies the neuromuscular re-education work that we teach in our programs is the understanding that anything that we do repetitively in our bodies becomes a learned behaviour.
More accurately, anything that we do repetitively becomes learned in the brain. Our brain is responsible for “muscle memory” – good or bad. There is no such thing as a muscle having memory – muscles are governed and controlled by the brain and the Somatic Nervous System.
“Red Light reflex” is the term we use to describe that rounded forward, slumped chest strained neck posture that is so prevalent in society today. Here is a great picture of this posture.
In Red Light Reflex posture the front body muscles including the Pectorialis Major and Minor, our large and powerful Rectus Abdominus, Sternocleidomastoid (strong neck muscles), inner thigh muscles (Adductor Brevis, Adductor Longus, Adductor Magnus, Sartorius and Gracilis) and the muscles of the Pelvic floor (Levator Ani group – Pubococcygeus, Puborectalis and Iliococcygeus) are resting at a level of contraction over and above what they should be.
What is critical to understand is that all of these front body muscles are contracted short and pulling the front body forward, creating this bowed like presentation in the front of the body.
Said another way, the brain has learned to hold them short and contracted, making standing upright difficult and feel like work.
Do you have this going on?
No matter how many times you draw your shoulders back, you feel your body slowly slumping forward again, your head is forward and you feel “heavy”?
Again, it is important to understand that there is a signal coming from the brain telling these muscles to stay contracted.
This signal will continue running until a new signal replaces it.
BIG QUESTION: So, how on earth is drawing back, forcing ourselves tall, bracing with the back body, contracting the lats – how is any of this changing the patterning going on at the level of the brain?
ANSWER: It is not.
Again I want to stress that forcing yourself upright will not “fix your slumped posture.
What will fix my slumped posture?
Teaching the front body muscles to release long. Teaching them to release long using the skills of neuromuscular re-education.
How do we restore upright posture?
We teach the muscles of the front body to let go and sit long again using a technique called Pandiculation.
It’s an easy 3-step process:
Step 1: Conscious contraction of the front body muscles
Step 2: Slow, conscious release of the front body muscles, and
Step 3 Conscious rest – sensing and feeling the muscles and the new length that starts to return there.
To start learning these simple somatic movements that you can do for 5-10 minutes per day to target and replace old patterning with new ones.
Check out our YouTube Channel to view the Arch and Flatten and Flower Exercises which are powerful for creating permanent and lasting change to your posture.
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