Adjust your Positions as well as your Furniture
Thursday, January 1, 1998

Section: Posture & Balance

Many postural habits begin in childhood, and often we aren’t really aware of our tendencies. Habit dulls the sensory awareness: if you sit a certain way long enough, your brain will stop noticing that it’s not comfortable. For instance, many computer users mouse with the arm held a long way from the body. This position creates static load - essentially, you are holding up the weight of your arm all day. A similar strain happens in the shoulders if the head is held too far forward. But the inherent strain may not be noticed until it becomes pain-- by which time injury may have occurred to the connective tissue.

Awareness helps you notice sooner when your postural habits tend toward strain. The Feldenkrais Method is a great asset here: you learn to sense for yourself when you are in better alignment with gravity. You learn tools for being aware of your range of comfort, so you can make appropriate changes before damage occurs. You are also introduced to optional ways of sitting, shifting weight and moving, which has multiple benefits: choices of action allow the nervous system to adapt to changing conditions, and variety of movement prevents static load.

The postural training often offered by ergonomic salespeople amounts to a one-shot lecture on “proper posture,” as if you could assume the correct position and maintain it all day. Even if you could, it would just produce stiffness. Because Feldenkrais practitioners understand the dynamics of movement, they are ideally suited to introduce a
lasting improvement in the workplace. For example, Mary Newell ‘s firm Workplace Wellness, of Westchester, NY, implements training programs based on Feldenkrais principles. “I empower employees to be more responsible for their well-being,” says Ms. Newell.

“Participants learn principles of active sitting, use of the arms for keying, how to give relief to eyes, neck and shoulders, how to vary posture during the day to prevent static load. With fewer discomforts, employees can put their whole attention on their job, and productivity and job satisfaction increase.”

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