Healthy posture is a hike, not a sprint

healthy posture is a hike not a sprint


For more years than I’d like to confess to, I greeted every January 2 like a sprinter in the starting blocks.

I was armed with resolutions, high on solstice euphoria, and fueled, at least in part, by having eaten far too much chocolate in the preceding two weeks. The impending austerity looked good.

We all know how that ends.

By late January, right about now, real life had derailed all my shiny plans. I would stumble over the story that refused to be written, the head cold that made getting up early to go swimming unthinkable, and most of all, my own need to dream and dawdle, a need I routinely forgot about in the frenzy of making resolutions.

But those goals I wanted to achieve in late December I still wanted in late January. Who doesn’t want to healthier posture, a better diet, or more physical strength? After another round of failed resolutions those goals seemed, if anything, harder to obtain.

Sprinting into the new year doesn’t work. So, what does? I’d like to nominate hiking.

Sprinting is all over in seconds, or at least by the end of January. You don’t cover much distance. It’s explosive, and unsustainable. And you’re alone.

Hiking is long, meandering, and relaxed. There are views, side trips and stops for lunch. And it’s companionable. Not only is it pleasant to have other people with you, but you learn from each other.

Here’s how that works with the example closest to my heart.

You can’t sprint your way to healthy posture. The buzzers between your shoulder blades, the standing desks, even the posture-improving exercises are all attempts to sprint. They all fail because they don’t solve the underlying problem.

If you stand with your pelvis forward of your legs, and sit on your sitting bones, or your buttocks, you’ve pitted yourself against gravity. It won’t go well.

Balance, or Original Posture, on the other hand, is a hike.

We’re walking, step by step, up and down a trail. Off in the distance? The day when we live in original alignment. That’s the alignment we had when we were toddlers, and that most of our great-grandparents maintained for their entire lives. Because it places us in optimum anatomical balance, this alignment gives us pain-free, mobile, elegant, healthy posture.

All along the route we learn how to increase our alignment with gravity. Long before we can settle into perfect balance, back pain, foot pain, knee, neck and shoulder pain lessens or disappears. We have more energy. That’s because the gripped muscles that have been causing fatigue begin to release. They can’t stay tight if you align yourself and relax every time you sit down.

Best of all, hiking is companionable. And in my experience, you will not meet better companions than the ones you find in Balance. Yes, meeting new people is difficult under pandemic circumstances. Even so, you can join a weekly online coaching class. You’ll meet other students, and learn from their questions and the feedback they receive, as well as your own.

True, the trail is long, but there are picnics along the way.

Some signs that you’re getting closer to healthy posture: the moment when you hop out of bed in the morning and realize that your lower back doesn’t hurt, and hasn’t for weeks. Or you catch a glimpse of yourself in a store window and see a straight back where there used to be a curve. Or you take a soft, deep breath and feel your lungs fill all the way to above your collarbones.

Would you like to join me at the trailhead?

I’m offering a free introductory Zoom class in Balance on Thursday, February 24 at 3 pm PST.

What we’ll cover:

  • why healthy posture has nothing to do with standing up straight
  • the startling insight at the core of Balance
  • what makes Balanced alignment relaxed and easy
  • why Balanced posture relieves pain
  • how to sit so you’re helping your spine instead of hurting it

I’ll be adding the signup link here soon.

It’s always more fun to attend in person, but don’t worry if you can’t be there. I’ll send you the link to the recorded session as soon as it’s available.

Do you already have your hiking boots on? Want to start living in healthy posture now?

Check out Spinefulness Foundations, my self-paced online course. In four one-hour classes, I lead you through the basics of sitting, standing, bending, walking and breathing in Balance. Each one-hour class comes with a bonus exercise that will help you to bring Balance into your daily life.