Canonbury Clinic of Osteopathy
265 Upper Street, London, N1 2UQ

Recognising Poor Posture and How To Improve It.

Improving Posture


Depending on the cause of poor posture, there are several methods available to help improve it. Because posture is so crucial to our overall health, it is important that we learn to improve it as early as possible so that our health and wellbeing benefits now and in the future.

Most people’s experience of trying to improve their posture probably revolves around “advice” from parents/loved ones, walking round balancing books on your head and/or pulling in your tummy and bum so tight you can’t actually breathe.
Changing your posture is difficult for several reasons:

Our posture changes over time to accomodate the demands placed on it;
We are not taught how to identify and control posture;
We lose touch with our inner sense of the relative position of our bodies;
It is a very personal thing, and we tend to get upset if someone comments on our bad posture, especially when we think its perfect!

We all possess an inner sense of where how our body is positioned at every single moment, but because of the above reasons, we gradually lose touch with it. Sat on the sofa glued to the television, hours spent playing computer games or five days a week in front of a computer totally absorbed with what’s on the screen, we forget to take time to truly sense and look after our bodies.

Improving posture isn’t as simple as trying to stand up straight or sit properly in a “normal” chair. It requires an understanding of the true causes behind poor posture in each individual. Only then can we control the underlying causes and re-educate ourselves about how we use our bodies so we can reawaken and benefit from our inner, or kinaesthetic sense.

No two people will have the same problem, and hence what works for you is unlikely to work as well for someone else. But by using the three principles below, it is possible to find the individual causes and control them in the most appropriate way for each person.
1. Identify structural causes


At present this is routinely missed out of most postural examinations, largely because it is thought of as a rare and special cause of poor posture. We now know that minor structural misalignmentsi n the feet have a direct impact on posture and are incredibly common. So our focus must shift to first eliminating this as a potential cause of poor posture rather than leaving it as a last resort.


Because structural causes are present from birth, they are the most significant controlling factor in postural development. Regardless of how we use our bodies throughout our lives, unless we are aware of and properly control any underlying structural cause, no amount of postural awareness and improvement will result in long term benefits.


An osteopath will be able to assess your structural integrity.

2. Identify positional/environmental causes

This is most commonly where postural awareness assessments begin. Let’s face it, we’re not going to concerned about out posture unless we are in pain from specific activities. The problem is that when we focus solely on where the pain is and not on the posture of the entire body, we can easily slip into repeated symptomatic relief rather than long term successful treatment.


How we sit, stand and move around will affect our posture, but by trying to change these without controlling structural causes and reawakening of our inner sense, it is difficult to make successful permanent improvements.

3. Re-education


Awakening our inner sense of our body position is imperative to ensuring better posture. Osteopathy is undoubtedly an excellent method of doing this, as it teaches you how to become aware of your own body position and how to consciously change it.

When tackled correctly, improving posture is actually quite easy. There is no doubt it takes patience, practice and an open mind, but by identifying the root cause of the problem and using the right tools to correct it, improving your posture is one of the most liberating things you can do for your own health and self-development.


If you think you’ve already tried everything and are ready to give up, bear this in mind – there will always be a reason for poor posture. You just need to find it, control it and overcome it.



Poor posture is the misalignment of the musculoskeletal structure. A body that is out of alignment causes the position of the centre of gravity to shift, which in turn causes stress and overuse/misuse of the muscles and weight-bearing joints as the body adapts to compensate.


There are two different types of misalignments that cause poor posture to develop: Structural

Structural misalignments


These are physical misalignments within, or intrinsic to the body. They are permanent and unchanging, with the most common example being a misalignment of the calcaneus and/ or talus (bones of the feet) creating a varus or valgus footshape. Another less common example is an anatomical (not functional) short leg.


Structural misalignments are present from birth, although in a minority of cases they can be caused as a result of trauma, serious injury or disease. This means that in most cases, our ability to maintain good posture is compromised before we even take our first steps.

Functional misalignments

These are changes to the alignment of the body caused by external, or environmental factors. Examples include how we sit, what shoes we wear, any accidents we have had and the nature of our occupation.

Functional misalignments are created solely as a result of how we use or misuse our bodies. Repetitive motions, forced postures maintained for long periods of time, continual activity without rest and of course injuries and accidents all contribute to moulding and shaping our structural alignment throughout life.

Interestingly, the development of functional misalignments are controlled in part by structural ones. Because structural problems generate poor posture from the moment we learn to walk, weaknesses in the structure develop which can govern how we choose to sit or what we position we find most comfortable.

Differences in assessment

Until now, the most popular cause for poor posture has been functional factors. As a nation overrun with posture-related health problems, hundreds of thousands of pounds is now being spent on protecting workers from the risks associated with manual handling, prolonged sitting in office environments and repetitve tasks.


Whilst businesses must continue to make money, it is becoming more and more accepted that a proactive approach to managing peoples health whilst at work will pay dividends in the long term.


This is a vitally important and step forward in the management of posture-related problems caused by environmental factors.

The problem is, there are currently not any methods or means in place to identify and control the effects of structural problems on posture.

Paradoxically, without control of structural causes, the benefical effects of the changes taking place to control risks from environmental causes are being negated.


No matter how adjustable and expensive our ergonomic seat is at work, or how many machines we can get to lift things or carry out repetitive tasks, we are still left having to cope with the effects of poor posture generated by our own bodies.

If we set about understanding and controlling structural causes as well as we have environmental ones, then the long-term health of the nation will benefit.


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