Perfect posture gets attention. If you want to be noticed when you walk into a room, walk in with perfect posture.
Posture is important. Perfect posture sends a deep, instant body language message of self-confidence, self-esteem, being present, being valuable - literally being balanced. By comparison, a hunched posture sends a message of submission, lack of self-confidence, lack of self esteem, subordinate, not so worthwhile being listened to, more of a victim.
So there’s a reason beyond upper back pain, neck pain and headache why posture matters. Every person you meet is receiving the silent message you’re sending them - friends, family, workmates, prospective employers, everyone.
Steve August says:
"I’d like to give full credit to Professor Amy Cuddy for opening my eyes to the psychological and sociological significance of posture.
As a New Zealand physiotherapist, I’d been concerned with the physical effects from a hunched posture - upper back pain, neck pain and headache. Amy and I had a hilarious exchange of views discovering we’d both been studying different aspects of essentially the same problem. And there are chilling implications."
Dr Amy Cuddy is a professor in Harvard Business School, has a PhD in social psychology, and has given the second most watched TED talk, with 46 million views (as at January, 2018): ‘Your body language may shape who you are.’
Dr Cuddy’s best seller ‘Presence’ (Orion, 2016) is a comprehensive and convincing cover of the research on posture and self-confidence. (Steve is on pages 226-8.) One experiment gave its subjects the same task to complete on different devices, with clear instructions not to stop until the researcher returned to the room. Since she never did, it was a sneaky test of initiative - at what point did a subject decide they’d had enough, think for themselves and leave against orders?
The result was a perfect slope correlation: the first to leave were those sitting upright at desk top computers; the next were those more hunched on the laptops; the next were those hunching still further to use the tablets; and those on the smartphones, the most hunched of all, were going to stay until the lights went out.. The conclusion is clear - simply adopting and holding a hunched posture drops initiative, and also drops the self-confidence to make command decisions which drives it.
Another piece of the puzzle is in Professor Jean Twenge’s article in The Atlantic (September 2017): ‘Have Smartphones Destroyed a Generation?’ Over the last several years there has been an obvious and large drop in adolescent initiative, self-confidence and happiness, and an increase in depression and loneliness, especially for girls. According to Dr Twenge, the only likely correlation with this abrupt change is the deluge of social media enabled by the new technology of smartphones (invented 2007), tablets (2010) and laptops (invented last century but smaller and lighter recently).
These cool, portable devices are not like desktop computers. They cannot be set up ergonomically correctly, simply because their screens do not separate from their keyboards. You have to hunch to use them, and everyone’s using them. Look around you. In perfect posture, the head is positioned over the shoulders, with the ear lobes vertically above the points of the shoulders. You will now see people with the backs of their heads sitting in front of their chests.
It now seems clear that all this hunching is driving not only a huge upsurge in upper back pain, neck pain and headache, but also contributing to a drop in initiative, self-confidence and even happiness - especially in the young who have grown up with the small, portable devices.
Cheeringly, you can do something about it - and it’s not difficult. You don't have to stop using the devices - you have to look after your spine so it'll handle that.
The Backpod was developed in New Zealand primarily to counter the iHunch. This makes it essentially a home treatment and ongoing care package to get you back towards perfect posture.
This isn’t just a matter of sitting upright - you have to cover each part of the problem. See our iHUNCH page for the analysis of exactly what causes pain with hunching, and how to counter each bit. You need enough muscle support so you can automatically hold yourself correctly without fatiguing, and easy muscle stretch and spinal joint movement so they don’t stop you from getting there.
The Backpod's simple home program for pulling you back towards perfect posture is in the user guide that comes with the Backpod. (There's also a pdf of the full Backpod user guide on this page, to view or download.) The stretching and strengthening exercises, home massage and posture tips are also free for anyone to watch and use as videos on our iHunch page.
The international award-winning Backpod itself is a stylish spinal fulcrum specifically designed to stretch out a tightened, hunched upper back - just by lying back on it. You need this extra leverage to stretch out most hunched spines - exercises alone can't to do this bit. See our Backpod page for more details and explanation about the Backpod.
As a bonus for working your way back towards perfect posture, you also get taller. No, this isn’t silliness or hype. It’s perfectly logical - as you straighten out a hunched upper back, you gain in total height. This is often as much as a centimetre (nearly half an inch) or even two (nearly an inch).
It’s this collection that works. Just the one treatment approach on its own, such as gym strengthening or chiropractic manipulation, generally doesn’t work so well, or last. Of course if you’re already doing yoga, or Pilates, or anything else useful - don’t stop. The Backpod and its program will cover the other bits needed, and you can add them in at home in your own time.
Also of course, you may need other health professionals for any tricky bits, such as manipulation for thoroughly locked neck joints. But the Backpod and its program make up the simplest effective bundle you can use at home to pull yourself straight and pain free again. It’s not difficult - and good luck with the work.