Book Review: Natural Posture for Pain-Free LivingSusannah Kent March 1, 2014
Author: Kathleen Porter
Publisher: Healing Arts Press
Book Publication: 2013
For many, good posture elicits the image of standing at attention with chin thrust forward and up, chest lifted, shoulders pulled back, belly sucked in, and tail bone tucked under – the mirror opposite of slouching. In the updated Natural Posture for Pain-Free Living, Kathleen Porter, an expert in natural alignment and posture-related pain programs, says neither of these postural habits is good, natural or healthy. In fact, they can contribute to postural misalignment which she believes is the most common cause of tension and pain in the body.
Contributing to postural misalignment, Porter says, is the fact that we have forgotten what natural posture looks like, “We have veered off the axis [of our centre of gravity], and adopted a wide assortment of compensating stances, none of which support the body in a natural and, ultimately, healthy way.”
Drawing on the fundamental laws of physics, and supported with photographs, drawings and an assortment of exercises, the book deftly makes Porter’s arguments for the proper role of muscles and bones in the natural human design. By following these examples with patient practice, Porter believes we can rediscover how to sit, stand, and move as we did when we were babies and toddlers, in relaxed, aligned bodies – the true reflection of good posture.
According to Porter, natural structural support is crucial to a healthy body; much like properly placed posts, joists and struts in a building. It is the placement of bones in the human body that determines the nature and integrity of its structural support. Ironically, Porter has determined it is our modern technological society’s view of what makes a fit and healthy body that is undermining this natural structural support – leading to a host of health problems.
In our muscle-obsessed society, says Porter, “we have forgotten that the musculoskeletal system is a partnership of muscles and bones. By not recognizing the skeleton’s key role in providing underlying, aligned support, we force our muscles to make up for this deficit by imposing dysfunctional patterns of use.”
To demonstrate a body that uses muscles and bones as nature intended, Porter provides photographic examples of old and young alike. Many of these ‘gurus of natural posture’ may look to be overweight, weak or out of shape, nevertheless they are able to effortlessly walk straight, tall and relaxed despite heavy loads bearing down on their heads and spines. Their strength, says Porter, is bone deep.