I went through 4 major postural changes over the course of two years, starting at the end of 2018. Each change took a lot of time, energy, patience, and devotion to my bio-mechanical and neuromuscular health. I didn't have a plan or outlook for the most part during this process-- each postural change revealed the next step. Making these changes has halted my degenerative disc disease and will save my life by helping me combat chronic pain from nerve compression, and find contentment and purpose during my time here!
Once I had spent a few years working on the below changes, I was finally able to access a "final form," and everything came together for me in my body. I "grew" a couple inches. Every posture seemed to snap into place and I have slowly begun to feel like a strong unit for the first time in my life. A feeling that I didn't know was possible before. I wasn't aware that everyone gets to lay their entire backs on the ground, and twist and move while feeling stable and grounded. I was dealt a bad hand with hyper-mobility and double-curvature scoliosis, which initially exacerbated these posture issues, but I'm doing what I can with it and will make the changes needed to re-claim my body and improve my experience. I still have a lot of work to do making sure these new positions are healthy, comfortable, and familiar enough to became a default way of existing and moving. I'm so grateful for self portraiture to help me document and express my experience
NOTE: The backlit studio images are taken two years into posture correction and were made to visualize the specifically referenced part of the body where changes were made in each step. As such, the rest of the body will be in a healthy position so as to highlight postural irregularity in the context of an otherwise-healthy body. On layman's terms, the "bad" posture will look especially fucked up in each example pic because I'm holding the rest of my body in alignment to highlight only that one fucked up part. The purple grids, though, were made in 2018, which shows how much insight I had into my posture journey! At the time, I could barely straighten my spine enough to take the "corrected" pics.
Click on "helpful links" to learn more about what I specifically did to correct my posture, and to learn how you can help yourself feel better in your body too.
I fixed my posterior pelvic tilt by rotating my tailbone back and out. I had realized that the back edge of my shoulder blades were several inches farther back than the back edge of my butt, giving me a swayback posture. My hip flexors were incredibly loose and weak and my low back muscles, hamstrings, and certain glutes were very tight and tense to compensate for lack of stability in my hips. I spent 6 months correcting these muscle engagement patterns and "sticking out my butt." I wrote "untuck" in black sharpie on my arms and practiced a lot of mindful, meditative walking that was uncomfortable at first but eventually became more familiar as my pelvis got used to the relatively-anterior tilt.
RIB CAGE &
Once I anteriorly tilted my pelvis, I noticed a huge curve in my back. Instead of my core muscles holding the frontline of my body into a strong, straight, synched unit, my weak core from swayback posture was unable to keep my ribs down. I continued to "lean back," and now with a "duck butt" which caused my weak L-spine to arch into hyper-lumbar-lordosis, also known as military back (or as I like to call it, bad bitch back.) This huge lumbar curve wasn't obvious when my pelvis was tilted forwards! I spent a solid year (and will continue evermore!) fixing this rib flare issue and working on my inner abdominals. I learned to breathe into my belly instead of my chest and to move with a straight spine instead of letting it snake around as I moved. This one took a bunch of careful, repetitive physical therapy exercises that I still do every day to maintain a healthy core. I also had to incrementally release specific parts of my back muscles that had to bear the brunt of holding up my torso lest I fall all the back and snap in half. For a long time, most of my back did not touch the surface when laying on my back. The day I felt myself supported, cradled by the ground for the first time in my life was a big moment for me. Fixing this has already contributed greatly to decreasing my nerve pain, although it will be a long time before I can stand and move with a synched core without having to think about it.
All of my big changes overlapped since they were so revealing of the next step. I also got uncomfortable with the new positions if I didn't start "fixing the next step" as soon as I was able. It was very overwhelming at times! Halfway through the year of correcting my hyper lumbar lordosis by fixing my rib flare and training my core, my neck and shoulders were really crowded and uncomfortable. Pulling my ribs down to align my upper torso with my bottom torso essentially just angled my entire non-flexible T-spine downwards. My shoulder and neck angled down with it, revealing hyper-thoracic-kyphosis (hyper=too much, thoracic=upper spine, kyphosis=bending outwards), or hunchback posture. I had to open up my chest muscles, fix my rounded shoulders and winged scapulas, while also training my T-spine to open up and twist. It will be a long and productive journey to practice bending and rotating continuously throughout my whole spine instead of isolating all of this movement in my low back.
This process of fixing my forward head position (aka cervical nod) is intimately connected to corrections in my T-spine and shoulders, but has proven to be the hardest change to make in terms of time, energy, and how debilitating the pain can be from repositioning these joints. With my T-spine correctly aligned with the rest of my spine, my neck was at a 45 degree angle to where it needed to be. My postural abnormalities hid each other and I was able to get away with them for a long time, which means my body had a lot of time to get used to and injured from these positions. I'm fixing my neck with a lot of gentle physical therapy and bodywork while slowly building correct muscle memory, but the changes in cervical fluid and musculature in my C-spine gives me cervicogenic headaches that put me on my ass, so I have to move slow. I worked on aligning my C-spine throughout 2020 up until now and have been making steady progress, which is highly encouraging!