Standing tall with head bowed is not weakness but strength

As a nation I think we are a bit confused about posture.

True, theory has it that we are not designed to walk on two legs. That standing upright has created all sorts of problems for us. That our spinal curvature, which was completely satisfactory when we walked on all fours, has been severely challenged as bi-peds.

It’s tougher to keep our balance when we stand upright on two legs. Let’s not blame gravity, which pulls equally on all sides. But, as a good natural force will, it challenges us to assess what is out of whack. Anything that extends a bit too far in one direction puts stress on its opposing force meant to counterbalance in the other direction.

Think: large protruding belly and “oh, my aching back.”

There’s a lot of tipping and teetering going on out there. Let’s think about our posture.

Man slouching on sofaThere’s the slouch, that screams, “Leave me alone! I am perfectly comfortable like this! I have spent all day (or all week or all quarter) standing at attention doing what you wanted. Now, I’m doing what I want.”

slumped at computerThere’s the slump, that seeps in, hour after hour, as our heads get heavy and the time gets late. “I have to keep at it. Must not give up. Deadline approaching. Coffee…need coffee..”

There’s the bend of the burdened. Finally, the weight is too heavy. “I just can’t do it. There’s nothing to be done. I give up.”

burdened and bent

The weight of life and it’s circumstances is killing us.

But we’ve another option. The bow. For some, this is a full body posture, a prostration. For some, this is a bending from the waist, a posture of respect. For me, this is a lowering of my head toward my chest. A symbol of submission in a posture of acknowledgement.

head bowed

I can stand tall and bowed. In fact, I must stand tall. By my spine’s design I am meant to stand tall to maintain the spinal curvature in its proper balanced orientation.

The bow comes simply from the final joint. The one between cervical disc number one (C1) and the occipital portion of my skull. This joint is uniquely shaped to allow the nod of a yes or the bow of the head. The disc is actually named the atlas because, suspended upon it is the weight of our head just as the mythical Greek Atlas held the the weight of the world on his shoulders.

Perhaps we have become a nation which slumps and slouches. This ultimately leads to collapse.

We fear bowing, because it seems submissive and weak. But, in fact, it stretches us. And, performed with upright posture, it is the strongest position of all. Standing tall requires engaging our core muscles to maintain the curvature designed into our spine. We are meant to stand upright.

But it challenges our balance. Especially if our over-indulgences, misappropriations or self-centeredness have left us listing and leaning precariously in any one direction.

This might go unnoticed as long as nothing really was at stake. But, when the weight of the world is on our shoulders, how otherwise can we hope to stand?

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About wlebolt

Wendy is a health and fitness professional and coach who specializes in helping young athletes dig deep to reach high. Her business, Fit2Finish, LLC, serves the Washington DC metropolitan area.

Posted on October 10, 2013, in Body, Cool Science, In Action and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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