Not surprisingly, my countless hours hunched over a computer year after year finally caught up with me recently. I ended up developing neck problems and had to start seeing a physical therapist. A P.T. has you do exercises both on-site and at home, rubs your neck and shoulders in all sorts of comfy and pleasant ways, and gives you stern lectures on the importance of good posture.
Sure enough, after about two months of this treatment, my neck problem started to go away. I am convinced that it wasn’t so much the comfy and pleasant rubbing, nor the exercises, whether at home or on-site. It was the stern lectures.
To underline the wonderfulness of good posture, my P.T. pointed out that if you ever look at small children, say around two years old, they have gloriously good posture – they stand and sit in a perfectly relaxed and centered way. It’s only later in life that we all learn to go to hell with ourselves.
Of course the real teacher was the pain. Once you get the concept firmly stuck into your mind that bad posture leads to serious pain, it’s amazing how much easier it is to remember to sit upright, stop crouching down over your computer keyboard, and in general keep your body in a better position.
And at some point during this process – as my body healed, now that it was no longer being mistreated – it occurred to me that “good posture” is a highly generalizable concept. It applies to pretty much anything.
There’s a kind of “posture dialectic”. Anything you can do – have a conversation, do a job, sing a song, help out a friend in need, with a kind of grudging crouch – can be done by just barely getting through the experience, while exerting minimal effort. Or, alternatively, you can keep your back straight, put in that extra effort, and stay centered – in every way. I’ve tried it both ways, and it turns out (sometimes to my surprise) that the good posture way actually takes much less effort.
I hope you understand my position.