Posture: The Straight-Up Story

By Krista Elliott

My husband's grandfather recently passed away at the age of 94. One of the things that was always so noteworthy about him was the fact that even at his advanced age, his 6-foot-3 self was still held upright in perfect military posture. Unlike many elderly people, whose posture degenerates with age, he was ramrod-straight at all times, whether sitting or standing. 

It made him an imposing and impressive figure. And it also made me think about posture, and how we have prioritized it (or not) throughout history. 

Posture: A Short History

David Yosifon and Peter N. Stearns wrote a fascinating paper titled The Rise and Fall of American Posture, which explores the sociological underpinnings of posture and its rules. In it, they explain how in the early nineteenth century, rigid posture became de rigueur, as a way of differentiating the "moral" and "upright" upper classes from not only the slouched and tired working classes but also from an earlier, languid and morally "loose" upper class. Fashion and furniture reflected this trend, with tight corsets, rigid vests, and hard, upright seating. Good posture indicated good character.

As fashion and furniture eased in the late nineteenth century, the establishment issued dire warnings about the medical and social ramifications of poor posture (kids these days, right?) However, they were on the losing side of history, as modern society welcomed an increase in comfort, with looser clothing, furniture that had actual padding, and more relaxed posture.

Since then, our society has continued to relax its ways, but we still see traces of moral judgment being attached to one's posture, with an upright individual commonly being depicted as more reliable, trustworthy, competent, and successful than his round-shouldered or slumping counterpart. Of course, this depiction and its associated social norm are not only false, but can be problematic when you factor in that some people simply can't stand or sit up straight because of medical reasons. 

So Why Do We Need Good Posture?

Good posture may not say anything about your personality, but it does have health benefits. Maintaining good posture helps to reduce strain on our muscles and joints. It also also helps to keep our spine in its healthiest position, helping prevent subluxations and disc injuries. 

Professional chiropractic treatment from the experts at The Joint Chiropractic can help you attain your healthiest posture, offsetting the damaging effects of slouching, slumping, holding your head forward, or over-arching your back. When combined with exercises and stretches to balance out the muscular structure of your body and its forces on your joints, chiropractic treatment can help you attain a healthy and ideal posture that still feels comfortable and natural. 

With help from The Joint, perhaps you too can have noteworthy posture at the age of 94, standing head and shoulders above the rest.