Does Your Posture Suck?

Seeing a piece of land preserved from human intervention and exploitation is a gift. Growing up, living in a city and being grinded on daily makes us disconnected from our primal roots. I was one of a billion other professionals. My pretty nice perks were my golden cage. It was time to press pause.

City life leaves us with many unanswered questions and there is a sense of uneasiness when trying to grasp the quasi infinite complexity of the world we leave in. This article is about sharing with ROK readers the intellectual journey of a corporate professional seeking a meaning. It’s not a mid-life crisis, it’s a clarity one.

The urban grind, Joberg (Johannesburg, Gauteng, SA)

1. Virtue signaling is a mask

I believe it takes relentless commitment, intellect, and energy to understand and discover beneath all that camouflage the real intent of people and the cynical nature of our society. Because our brain is lazy and we will seek the most convincing pitch.

People who claim high morals, publicly show gratitude and generosity are lauded. In fact all they do is to exploit a behavioral hack to gain social status. This is also the case for deceptive altruists. On the other hand, in nature, there is none of that, at least not in the way it exists in an urban environment. In nature, we see camouflage for what it is, deceit.

2. African wildlife

Kruger Park is a South African natural park located north east of Johannesburg. In shape and area it is similar to Portugal. The land is relatively flat, the soil is rock hard but when scuffed by vehicle wheels it becomes a choking red dust. There are no fences between the park and the surrounding cultivated land other than natural frontiers like rivers or mountains.

The grassy landscapes and the mixed communities of trees, shrubs, and grasses can be subject to occasional wildfire. Several camps comprising of tents and bungalows are scattered across the park and there are gas stations within one hour drive from one another.

The cars are part of the landscape

Surprisingly, the game isn’t scared of cars and probably sees it as moving rocks. It is almost as it we were invisible. Getting out of the vehicle is prohibited and driving on the road is limited to 50 km/h. The game grew accustomed to cars and we are not perceived as a danger.

Impalas chilling by a pond while the elephant is taking a mud bath

The most frequent game that can be seen is the impala, a slender antelope similar to a gazelle in build. The male grows lyre-shaped horns while the female is hornless and smaller than the male. The enthusiastic guide explained the impalas are gregarious but the male can be territorial when it wants to hold territories where it may form harems of females.

The territories are demarcated with urine and faeces and defended against male intruders. When I wrote this, I paused for a minute only to let my mind suggest that this was akin to cockblocking.

Not much going on

It is fascinating to see zebras, impalas, wildebeests chewing grass and chilling next to one another. The impalas walk elegantly and slowly just the way a ballerina moves in a ballet. It eats the grass calmly. The impala cervical system will release adrenaline in the event of an immediate threat to temporally boost its response.

Stress in life should only be limited in time and adrenaline be released when faced with a life endangering situation as lasting stress can be devastating on someone’s psyche. It is my intuition that modern stress is a prime example of a maladaptive behavior that we inherited from our ancestors shaped by thousands years of evolution.

3. The disconnect meets the overarching truth

It is only natural that witnessing nature makes anyone question and draw parallels between our urban lifestyle and Kruger Park. After all, the urban lifestyle is just a more sophisticated version of the park where the intellect can be used to con and deceive people in order to gain a mating advantage.

Advertising, virtue signaling and marketing are just a smoke screen created to lure a lazy mind and are the ramifications and extensions of an urban environment where being a courtier offers more advantages than being a hunter.

The lion fears none

While the impalas, the wildebeests and the zebras are eating grass, something lurking in the dark throws gloom over the scene. The lion is the anti-social party pooper that preys upon the grass eaters. He is the one hiding in the Savannah ready to attack, he is the one who deceives.

Nature has a way of teaching animals and mankind in the most humble way, without being condescending or judgmental as most of us are. Its judgement is cold and heartless. Ego doesn’t exist in nature, only among humans.

I am currently reading a book by Avi Tuschman titled Our Political Nature — The Evolutionary Origins Of What Divides Us. The book explains the hidden roots of our most deeply held values and is a catalyst to understanding human nature and how passing on our genes that we share with our family and to a lesser extent with our tribe/community are ultimately at the core of our decisions.

It is understood that we live in a society that is goal oriented, multiple goals co-exist, for some it is to lead a hedonistic life or to live in accordance to the scripture and for others life is a quest to pursue riches, fame and power. But in nature there is only one ultimate reason to exist and that is to create a healthy legacy. In nature’s eye the rest is futile. So for that you can go to a sperm bank. Now that the matter has been taken care of, in our lives, it’s all about chasing fun, enjoying small pleasures, being independent, and cracking open a cold one with the boys.

Read More: 7 Reasons You Should Visit South Africa

13 thoughts on “Does Your Posture Suck?”

  1. Respectfully, I would disagree that upright rows are the most imporant exercise to be concentrating on for improving posture.
    Whilst I agree that it is important to develop your traps, in order to assist in broadening out and squaring off your frame, they are secondary to the most important exercise of all – the deadlift.
    Developing rock solid lower back strength will automatically correct most peoples’ posture, causing them to automatically walk and sit more upright, and eliminating lower back pain, which is the chief complaint of many people with office jobs.
    Upright rows put a lot of lateral torsion through your shoulders and elbow joints, and are very prone to causing injury if not carried out with good form. An front or back shrug using the olympic bar will develop the traps equally as well, with far less risk of injury.

    1. I never said they are the most important exercise over all. I merely said they’re the most important exercise in the video I shared right below what I wrote.
      But you know… you’re probably right. Getting someone with a weak posterior chain, hunched back, tight hips, and internally rotated shoulders, all from sitting a lot and not training their back much should absolutely be doing heavy deadlifts. That’s the cure right there.

      1. Actually, they should start doing extremely light ones, and work up. But I do appreciate the sarcasm.
        Admitted, I misinterpreted your statement slightly, but I feel it is remiss to have an entire article about improving posture, specifically mentioning standing up straighter, without mentioning deadlifts once. A solid core is the foundation of good posture.

  2. I do deadlifts regularly both romanian and trap bar and it doesn’t cure your back pain. It’s the bed, car seat and work desk that’s to blame for everything.
    Band pulls are great, rolling on a tennis ball or using a thercane to remove knots is great and also quad and hamstring stretches are great for getting rid of back problems. At least for me ( i also have mild scoliosis)

  3. The main problem from sitting to much is tight hip flexors. Bridging has been the best remedy for this in my experience. I built up to the stand-to-stand bridge and it really flattened up my stomach and improved my posture.
    The other good remedy for posture is regular long walks. Your body is built first and foremost for walking, much more-so than any sort of work-out. I find when I get a near daily 40min brisk stroll into my week my whole posture is much improved.

  4. I didn’t expect it, but I ended up learning about good posture by taking a ton of art classes.
    Good posture has nothing to do with arbitrary rules like “stand up straight” or “chest out”, etc. It has to do with balance.
    The human body is comprised of three main areas of mass — the head, torso and hips.
    The hips are designed to tilt forward. The rib cage/torso tilts backwards slightly. The head naturally tilts slightly forward. The three masses are held together with two zones of flexible connective tissue.
    These three shapes are in a zig-zag arrangement, or a large letter S. They are not purely vertical, suspended directly above one another, ramrod straight, but they offset and counter-balance one another.
    The only way to achieve good posture is to feel it, against gravity. Feel the weight of the head over the shoulders, and feel where the natural balance point is. Then feel the relationship between the ribs and hips, remembering that the lower back is supposed to be convex in the anterior direction.
    When one moves, the others move to counter-balance.
    Standing against a wall, for example, is no help at all.

    1. Phinn
      Good points made. I do go to the gym to excercise and certainly can respect the recommended videos in this post to asist with posture. And I also agree with your assertion that it is important to ‘feel’ the gravity to know that your prosture is correct – sort of like real time calibration.
      You say you learned about posture by going to art classes. I assume then you were studying the classic methods such as painting using the easel? What’s interesting today many artists are using new media methods such as photoshop and rendering programs, even photography. What happens here is that a good part of their creative time is spent behind a computer, which puts them in the same humpback environment as a regular office worker.

  5. Great article – whatever exercises work best, the key thing is to exercise, especially if you’re sedentary the rest of the time. Admittedly as an ex-rower some of my back pain is originally down to sport, but I’m confident it’s also due to working at a computer all day, every day.
    I actually developed some software to help computer users improve their posture. It’s called Postureminder, it uses your webcam to detect your posture and remind you if you sit badly for long periods (or even just sit without moving). It also can be set up to give break reminders, stretch exercises, hydration advice and micro-pause reminders. There’s a free 30-day trial download on my website – check it out if you spend a lot of time using a computer, and keep exercising!

  6. Posture problems also come from height. If your taller than most things you hunch over naturally to compensate. Getting your computer, desk, studying and office usage at the right heights can really help tall people correct their posture.

  7. Your in luck! I happen to know the greatest book in the world for posture.
    “Miss Craig’s 21-Day Shape-Up Program for Men and Women”
    My Dad turned me on to this book. It’s seriously old fashioned sissy stretches, leg lifts, etc. I did these for six months and all of sudden I noticed I was sitting and standing with perfect posture. No effort. It actually fells unconformable to slouch. You sit most comfortably in the “perfect posture” text book position. The exercises stretch all the muscles and tendons to align the body. I also believe, though they don’t claim it, that it flushes the body by operating all the lymphatic vessels in the body.
    Not sure how many of these books have been sold. Millions. You can get a used one cheap. Better get several copies. Every time I lend someone this book I never get it back. Classic, 100% old school excellent knowledge.
    Here’s another that I just found out about. Seems many are enthusiastic about it.
    5BX (Five Basic Exercises) Plan is an exercise program developed for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) by Bill Orban
    Download for free. Search for “5bx_plan.pdf” in Google.
    Designed for flight crew stationed in confined spaces. A friend of my Dad’s has done these all his life. Supposed to get strenuous but only takes 11 min. This fits in well with the idea that strenuous exercise for brief periods is better for you. I haven’t tried it yet but it has good reviews.

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