Posture and Gravity

How can gravity affect your posture?

Gravity and Posture

Gravity is with us from the time of our conception to the moment of death. It is so all pervading that we cannot sense it, for humans perceive sensory stimulation only as it varies. (We recognize light because there are periods of darkness, sound because we know quiet.) We do not sense gravity, but we do adjust to it. We must.

An underlying part of Dr. Rolf’s (founder of Rolfing Structural Integration) premise is gravity’s importance on each of us. To her, our ability to adapt to the influences of gravity will either break or make us.

We all need the significant segments of the body sitting comfortably:

  • Pelvis on legs,
  • The torso on the pelvis,
  • Shoulders, and neck on the torso)

 

One segment resting above the other for workable alignment to be present. Without this, the body is in conflict with gravity – a relentless force present 24 hours a day.

When support from below is missing, the neck, shoulders, back, and legs muscles will work harder to support an upright posture. If this extra workload is allowed to continue, the potential for injury, long-term pain, and discomfort increase many fold.

A well-known posture issue is Forward Head Posture, in which the head falls forward when support from below is lost. As the head continues to fall forward, the effects of gravity are increased. There is general agreement that the more the head falls forward, the greater the downward pressure applied to the neck and upper back. With a corresponding: poor posture – pain – poor posture cycle.

A technical definition of gravity

“Gravity…is measured as the weight of the body applied through the center of gravity of the body and directed towards the earth’s axis. The closer a body is to the earth’s center, the greater is the gravitational pull and, therefore, the more it weighs.”

Kinesiology: Scientific basis of human motion, 8th edition; p. 355

Think of gravity and posture like this

water and gravityImagine water flowing down a stream or river. The movement is in one direction – going from a high point to a low point. Often the water will create its own path, changing the landscape to direct and control the natural flow. This process is gravity in action.

The effect of gravity on posture can be either positive or negative. When aligned with correct posture patterns, the body works to minimize the impact of gravity. However, as poor posture habits show themselves, unnecessary strain can develop, moving us away from alignment and toward discomfort and dis-ease.

The neck, shoulders, back, and legs muscles will work harder to support an upright posture. Suppose this extra workload is allowed to continue. In that case, the potential for injury, long-term pain, and discomfort may increase significantly.

COMMON POSTURE PATTERNS