Stand Up Straight from the Spine

West Coast Swing Online Spins & Turns

How many of you have heard the advice to “stand up straight” and lifted your chest? Although you are thinking about having good posture, you are actually having the opposite effect. To understand why, we need to look at where the spine is.

Our bodies are designed to come forward from the spine. Our hips and ribcage attach to the spine at the back, with almost the entirety of the hip ands ribs in front of the spine itself.

When we say that you should stand up straight, the effect we want to create is having the spinal column lengthened from top to bottom. Instead of compressing the spinal vertebrae together, or bending them in various directions, we want the whole column to be vertically aligned and uncompressed.

But, what happens if the think about lifting your chest? You lift your ribcage from the front, but your ribcage still attaches to your spine in the back, and that connection didn’t move up. In fact, your vertebrae have to compress to lift the front of your ribcage!

So how are you supposed to stand up straight? Think about stretching the spine itself. If the spine lengthens, your rib cage will lift naturally because the vertebrae that the ribs attach to have stretched up, and the ribs are carried along.

The Drill: Today’s drill is straightforward, but it requires a lot of repetition to build the muscle memory. Practice standing up straight from the spine. You should feel like your back is lengthening, and that should naturally cause your ribcage to lift. Don’t think about lifting the ribcage—the chest should be an effect, and not a cause.

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