The Obsession About Posture
Posture is something all professional voice users have to think about. For singers, you need to think about your posture for singing and stage presence. For speakers, you also need to think about stage presence and how best to look confident and engaging to your audience. Posture also has a bad reputation and is blamed for causing a multitude of pain! So what really is the deal with posture and what do savvy voice users like you need to know about it? Let’s find out.
As a physio, every single time I utter the word posture, within the ensuing 10 seconds, my patient would straighten themselves up! It’s quite amusing. It got me thinking why is this the case? Why is posture synonymous with straightening up to the point of a knee jerk reaction? I think it has got to do with the long standing belief that a tall and upright posture is the best posture.
Why have we come to believe that tall and upright is best? I don’t know. Perhaps because it signifies a lot of desirable qualities such as honesty and integrity: like a brave knight or an upstanding nobleman; perhaps it represents order and discipline: like a smart troop of soldiers marching strong; perhaps it indicates a show of strength and power, which is important for survival. On the other hand, a slouched posture has been associated with undesirable qualities! It has been used to portray evil and conniving characters getting up to no good, with conman deceiving you and lying to you, and also with laziness and sickness!
But is a tall and upright posture really the best? Let’s see what the latest, best science tells us.
It’s Actually OK To Slouch
Posture is not associated with back pain. In fact, posture is not associated with any pain condition at all.
Slouching does not give you back pain. It is not the shape you adopt that is the issue, it is the length of time you spend in the same shape and at the same spot that cause issues, which means it is perfectly ok to slouch sometimes, but if you slouch for hours on end, day after day, all year long then you’re likely to run into issues. This also means that if you spend hours on end, day after day, all year long being tall and upright, you are also likely to run into issues.
It’s An Option Thing
The key with posture is actually about movement options. How much options do you have to do all the things you want in your life? If you have limited options, then it is more likely for you to have issues. For example, if the only way you can sit is in a slouch, and you cannot choose to sit any other way, then it is an issue.
What influences your options? The most common factors are strength and mobility.
For example, if you prefer to sing sitting down or give your presentation sitting down because your legs get tired from standing, then a lack of strength is limiting your options and you need to get stronger legs for standing so that standing becomes an easy option once again. Or if you find it hard to stand tall how your speech pathologist or your vocal coach asks you to because your back feels stiff, then a lack of mobility and strength in your back are limiting your options, working on improving the mobility and strength in your back so you don’t feel stiff standing anymore will return your options. On that note, check out this post for a few easy back exercises to try.
Tips to Improve Your Movement Options
Here’re a few tips to help you get started on improving your movement options:
- Find out what your current options are. Focus on one task at a time, take note on how you prefer to do it and why, observe how others do this same task and why you choose not to do it that way. This will help you to identify what you need to work on to improve your movement options.
- Variety is best. Mix it up, change your shape up often.
- Plan ahead. If you have an unavoidable same-shape day, like you’ve a day of meetings and rehearsal booked in, then make sure you schedule in movement either before, in between, or afterwards.
If I had to define posture, I would say that posture is a state of motion that is comfortable, practical, unique to the individual, and task specific.
What do you think?
’Til next time, Be Free In Your Voice™.
This information is not medical advice. Got health concerns? Consult a real-life health professional.
Views are my own.