Structural Integration - Deep Tissue Bodywork, Posture and Movement Education

"When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneosly, the body heals itself."
Ida Rolf, Ph.D.

Supersize Me

May 25, 2012 : Blog, News

By: Coco Myers
Published in: Elle Magazine

You have lousy posture,” a guy I’d been dating tells me after we break up. The arrow strikes, and it hurts. Then, adding insult to injury, I get measured at a routine doctor’s appointment, only to learn I’ve lost a quarter of an inch over the past few years. I can’t be shrinking, according to the doc—I’m too healthy, so I must be slouching. And at 5’2″, I can’t afford to lose a millimeter. Suddenly I find myself obsessing over my posture—standing in line at H&M, sitting at my computer—and find that yes, the ex is right. I’m often rounded forward, scrunching. Not only am I shortening myself, I’m apparently shortchanging myself, according to psychologist Dana Carney, PhD, assistant professor of management at the Haas School of Business, University of California, Berkeley. Her research found that when people “expand to take up more space,” such as when they stand up straight, they were perceived as being more powerful and secure compared with when they were slouching. The power posers also felt better too: Saliva samples taken after subjects were asked to straighten up revealed a rise in testosterone.

Of course I want people, including men I might date, to view me as confident. I wonder, if I were to straighten up, might I not only appear taller and more secure, but actually feel more powerful, more graceful?

To get an objective analysis of my alignment, I visit Sinead FitzGibbon, a Long Island–based physical therapist known for working with triathletes to improve their form. FitzGibbon takes out a self-leveling laser light, the type used by construction workers, and beams a vertical red line up a blank white wall. She has me stand in profile along the red light to track where it intersects my body. Ideally, she says, we should see a plumb line from the middle of my ear through the shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle. We don’t. My shoulders are well in front of the bright stripe and my ankles far on the other side. “You push your chest and stomach out and arch your back. Your body is like a question mark,” she says, noting that I also stand with more weight on one foot. Next she measures the rise of my shoulders when I lie flat on a table: one is two inches high, the other two and a half (more typical is one and a half). So I’m rounded forward and lopsided, which explains the band of tension I often feel across my back.

Chronic postural imbalance stresses muscle tissue, potentially leading to micro­trauma to bones and joints, a factor in arthritis. Chest-opening stretches and other exercises can help, FitzGibbon says, but to really make a lasting change, I’m going to have to undo deeply ingrained patterns—to rethink, literally, how I stand. It’s enough to make me want to stay in bed…

[Read the rest of the article here]