How to Improve Your Posture

Just because Conventional Wisdom seems to get almost everything wrong when it comes to effective fitness, proper human nutrition, and preventing degenerative diseases, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all official recommendations and prescriptions are faulty. Cigarettes are bad for your health, for example, and drinking and driving actually do not mix. Those are two obvious examples of CW getting it right, and there are definitely a few others, but today, I’m mostly interested in the popular concept of good posture. What is posture? Is “good posture,” as defined by chiropractors, teachers, office ergonomic consultants, drill sergeants, and Grandma (“straighten up, sonny!”), actually good for us? Or have the experts gotten it wrong, once again? Looking around me, if people are listening to the professional advice, it’s bad advice. Slumping, slouching – I see it everywhere, every day, and not just when people are sitting. Can we apply the Primal Blueprint approach to posture and toss it all out?

First, let’s look at how posture has changed over the years in a developed nation like the United States. Before the turn of the 20th century, austere, rigid posture was very much in vogue – or, at least, it was heavily promoted by teachers and authority figures as the right way to sit and stand (corporal punishment, anyone?). Think Victorian. Think stiff and crusty. In the 1920s, though, an entirely new cultural phenomenon emerged. Jazz exploded and “The Great Gatsby” was written. The flappers – independent women who flouted convention, listened to jazz, wore short hair, and drank liquor – became the model for young American women to emulate. The hair, the fashion, and the dancing were all fair game, and rightly so, but so was the signature flapper slouch. Instead of standing prim and proper, the corset-less flapper thrust out her pelvis and slouched backwards, hands on her hips. It looked effortlessly cool enough, but it wasn’t good for back health.

Look familiar? That’s the same pose you see at red carpet events in Hollywood, where every starlet seems to employ that bizarre half-turn followed by a tuck of the pelvis forward when faced with a camera. It’s “slimming,” or something. Anyway, focusing on chronic postural deficiencies in a subculture may seem odd, but the long-term reverberations can be felt for decades, if not centuries. Besides, it’s a simple fact that society is influenced by culture, especially youth culture. Cultural adoption of slouching certainly isn’t the sole reason our posture is so messed up, but it’s probably a contributing factor.

Another factor is the rise of sedentarism – all that sitting is hell on our backs. As I mentioned in the previous sitting post, most work takes place from the (dis)comfort of an unnatural office chair, whereas in earlier times we’d actually have to move around for our livelihoods. Even those formerly active jobs, in the manufacturing or farming sectors, have been largely automated. Physically demanding tasks demand correct posture, because they’re easier and more sustainable that way. They’re kind of self-policing in that respect. But it goes the other way, too; the easier you make the job, the easier it is to get by with poor posture. If all the “heavy lifting” is done by machines, the worker is free to slump and slouch.

Oh, and the fact that sedentarism leads to muscle atrophy and inadequate exercise doesn’t help, either. And when they do get to the gym, it’s usually to do bicep curls and tricep extensions for an hour. Very few engage their core in any meaningful way. Functional fitness is enjoying a resurgence, but the “biceps, chest, and tris” split-style training still dwarfs it in popularity. If everyone did deadlifts, squats, and Olympic lifts with perfect form on a regular basis, our backs would be a lot stronger and our posture would be a lot better.

So, we’ve got influential youth sub-cultures, sedentarism, and inadequate fitness to (at least partly) blame for our posture problems, but how do we fix it? And is posture really that important? We seem to be getting by okay, all things considered.

That’s what they say about the Standard American Diet: “Oh, but look at our life expectancy. We live longer than ever!” How’s that really working out for us?

Poor posture is incredibly damaging, both to the individual and to society at large. The very obvious downside to poor posture is the debilitating physical pain that accompanies it. If you spend your days sitting, standing, and walking with a fundamentally flawed posture, you are going to be hurting. It may not hit you right away, but it will catch up with you, and if you want to live a long, active life a healthy back is pretty much required. Remember, too, that the spinal cord is essentially a high-bandwidth system for the transfer of information between nerves, organs, and other parts of our anatomy. If your posture is poor and your spine is impacted, some experts even suggest your ability to process information and relay data will be compromised.

It’ll hit you especially hard in the wallet, too. One study showed that for patients who complained of lower back pain – which was over a quarter of those polled – average medical expenditures were 73% higher than those without lower back pain. Those expenses don’t just disappear into the ether, either; they result in higher premiums across the board for all enrollees, so even if you have perfect posture, you’re paying for those who don’t. We’re all paying for it.

So what’s the answer? What is good posture?

Esther Gokhale has a pretty good handle on posture. She is a “back whisperer.” She grew up in India, earned a biochem degree from Princeton, and suffered with debilitating back pain for half of her life. When back surgery didn’t work (protip: it rarely works), she decided to get to the root of the problem and figure out what does work for back pain. She didn’t try every new-fangled treatment, though. Instead, Gokhale (unwittingly) channeled Weston Price and traveled to those cultures where back pain is virtually unknown despite men and women working long hours of backbreaking labor. She went to isolated African, Brazilian, and Indian villages to mimic the gait, the stance, and the posture of the inhabitants. These guys have been doing it right for centuries, and we all share the same genes and the same basic skeletal system, so it makes sense that what worked for them will work for the average Westerner (sounds pretty Primal, huh?).

The key to avoiding back pain (and, it turns out, achieving healthy posture) lies in the pelvis. Or, rather, the key lies in the positioning of the pelvis. Popular posture advice tells us to tuck the pelvis, to bring it forward. Tucking the pelvis is conducive to achieving that arched, S-curve back that the experts say is healthy and natural, but it’s actually counterproductive to sustainable, healthy posture. Gokhale blames medical professionals for that one, suggesting that the constancy of seeing patients with poor posture (which is almost everyone in developed nations) has conditioned doctors to consider the average S-curved back as normal and actually ideal. It’s not, though. The ideal posture should be mostly straight (or J-shaped, with the bottom curve of the “J” representing the curve of the anteverted pelvis), and it should be effortless and natural.

Instead of tucking the pelvis, think about “ducking” it, as in Daffy Duck. Look at his posture: pelvis back, butt slightly out, torso leaning forward. It’s exaggerated, but we want to keep that posture in mind. The technical term is anteverting the pelvis. Think about moving your pelvis back, as if you were a fat guy trying to look down at his toes. Allow your heels to bear your body’s weight as you move your torso slightly forward. Moving your torso forward may feel like excessive leaning, but that’s okay; this is a bit like going barefoot after a lifetime of wearing shoes, so it’s going to feel unnatural. Relax your abdominals. Now, check yourself out in a mirror. You may feel different (I did), but your back should be straight and you should actually look completely normal. It’s rather sad, but it feels strange because we’re just not used to standing with correct, natural posture.

I’ve rarely mentioned posture in the past, and I regret that. Going forward, I think we’ll be revisiting this subject with more frequency. I’m also going to give Gokhale’s ideas a trial run, but I’m pretty confident she’s on the money. After all, there’s always been a soft spot in my heart for research that uses anthropological evidence.

TAGS:  mobility

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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109 thoughts on “How to Improve Your Posture”

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  1. “Popular posture advice tells us to tuck the pelvis, to bring it forward. Tucking the pelvis is conducive to achieving that arched, S-curve back that the experts say is healthy and natural, but it’s actually counterproductive to sustainable, healthy posture.”

    I’ve never gotten that advice. Based on my experience, your suggestion to “duck it” is the only good posture advice I’ve ever heard given.

    1. Tuck, duck… are all these US-based terms? I find them not specific enough for those of us who do not live in the US. I pretty much thought by antevert you meant anterior pelvic tilt? More specific terminology and pictures would have helped!

      Pilates instructor
      (talking for the benefit of the masses)

  2. Great post, as usual! I am still working on the sitting posture, but welcome the new added info. I wonder how important head/neck positioning is? I notice I tend to look down a lot (so I don’t trip?) with my head slightly forward of my spine, shoulders slightly rounded forward. I am working on staying more upright and will try to pay attention to pelvis angle.

    The descriptions are always hard for me to visualize. A photo or diagram would do wonders for my comprehension.

    1. Head and neck posturing are definitely important. I’ve just been trying to figure out my own issues with my shoulders rounded forward and my head forward. I spent a fair amount of time in bodybuilding websites to figure it out, because it’s actually an imbalance between your chest and back, specifically weaker back muscles. I’ve spent years in the military doing piles of pushups, but now have to figure out how to work my back without an expensive gym membership.

  3. I’m curious…

    Is laying on your stomach for an extended period of time bad for your back?

    1. Yes, I have often found that most people who have suffer from back pain (or an anterior pelvic tilt as their normal posture) tend to sleep on their stomachs.

    2. If doing for too long, but here is the right way to lay on your stomach. slightly tense your glutes and you will see that your lumar lordosis goes back to neutral.

  4. Great post, Mark. Posture is so important yet so misunderstood and overlooked. I highly recommend the Egoscue method – an amazing yet simple way to get your body back into alignment and be pain-free.

  5. Your posture can be influenced by muscle imbalances. Too much pushing excercises (guys doing too much benching) and not enough pulling can develop shoulder imbalance and create that classic hunch back chronic bench presser look. Tight hip flexors and tight hamstrings will influence hip alignment. So, the key could be optimal joint balance by creating optimal muscle balance.

  6. Jess,
    A very primal Chiropractor that I visit claims laying on your stomache is bad for a number of reasons. Inorder to breath you need to keep head to one side for extended period of time (rather than stuffed in a pillow) causing neck and shoulder problems long term). Best sleep is obtained laying on your back with no pillow (like Grok?). back is in natural straight position and breathing is effortless. Fetal position is 2nd best but again tough on neck and shoulders.

    Which all brings me to the subject of Chiropractic. I beleive it is the best form medicine. Letting the body heal itself with out the use of drugs. Hey Mark how about a blurb on chiropractic? Good or bad. I vote good.

    1. Chiropractic the best medicine. Since when? I think you should do more research. Chiropractic care can shear your disc and joints.

      Its more about getting your muscles balanced and contracting and releasing.

      1. Shear your disc and joints? Perhaps you are the one who needs to do some more research.

  7. Mark, I cannot help but wonder if beds contribute to poor posture. Wouldn’t simple firm ground for sleep be analogous to walking barefoot?

  8. I strongly disagreed with this advice the first time I read this post. I have been trying to improve my posture for about a year now, by consciously rotating the pelvis as suggested by conventional wisdom (CW) and keeping the abs tight, nearly constantly.

    this post makes me re-think this approach. natural weightbearing in the spine + allowing diaphramatic breathing = it must be right.

  9. I begun reading Esther Gokhale’s back book two weeks ago, mostly out of curiosity and also because she uses pictures and observations of traditional cultures as samples and to make her points. I believe that a slight anteversion of the pelvis is an important point to keep in mind, while relaxing the abdomen. In looking at the most active cultures untouched by modern technologies, you see this common pelvis position.

    Gokhale’s book should have a home on every primal bookshelf.

  10. This “ducking” posture sounds exactly like the posture I (and everyone else?) uses while standing at the top of a heavy squat lift. Maybe it is just natural that your posture is forced to be correct when you have a lot of weight to held up by your back.

  11. I just got over a period of bad posture. It was hard, but over time I was standing and sitting correctly, no slouch. One of the awesome benefits besides just feeling better is that you stand a couple inches taller!

  12. Thanks for this post Mark. I have read so many conflicting advice on posture it is maddening. I’ll try the Daffy Duck, but I must say that my hip and back pain after doing intervals (which I chaulk up to bad posture) have all but gone since I started training barefoot!

  13. Good post, Mark. I’m glad you wrote that posture isn’t everything. I’m a physical therapist with lots of rather primal thougths on this. I probably could write a book.

    Just a few thoughts:

    – the best posture is the next one! (Best tip you can get!!!!)

    – good posture is better than bad, but variety of postures is better, and variety between posture and movement is best! (I think Grok would say: Duhuh)

    – there’s a lot of inter-individual difference. Some need to flatten, some need to hollow the back.

    – there’s actually not very much literature (peer reviewed) relating pain to posture. This is probably because of some reasons:
    – there is no relationship
    – there has not been done any good research
    – the interindividual differences create a sort of wash-out effect (minus one + plus one = zero)

    – many people with ‘good posture’ experience have chronic back pain, some with bad posture haven’t

    – motor control (coordination, technique, …) is more important (and correlated) than posture!

    Some on the paleo/primal/… talk about n=1 lifestyle. Posture is something to experiment with.


  14. Oh, one more thought:

    Correcting posture could be a bit like correcting your omega6/3 ratio. It is important pain free functioning or health, but there’s more to it.

    1. Thanks for chiming in for the physical therapists out there! Variety of movement and function is key!

  15. Mark (or anyone) please post pictures/diagrams. I’m having trouble visualizing a proper posture.

    1. So’m I. I tried doing the daffy pose, but that just jutted my gut out and I hardly doubt that’s strong and healthy. Not to mention unattractive.

  16. Mark,

    Are you sure your butt should be out like Daffy Duck for proper posture? I’ve always thought I’ve had pretty solid posture, but I definitely don’t do that.

    In fact, I just tried it and it really looks sort of funny.


  17. The tilting back of the pelvis may be a bit more easily achieved with a simultaneous lifting of the ribcage (while allowing the shoulders to sit down and back.) This occurs more easily with well-developed core strength.

    Some of you may laugh, but learning to dance Ballroom and Latin is a good way to improve posture; and Argentine Tango, which is danced from a strong core with the hips back, is ideal. There’s also an additional advantage of having to learn to breathe properly while maintaining good posture.

    There was an article just in last few days somewhere about good posture and its positive effect on brain function; if I can remember where I read it I’ll post a link.

    1. There’s nothing like trying to learn Argentine Tango to find out your posture and balance are totally off.

      The posture work is 95% of learning the dance — at least for me.

  18. Mark,

    You and Esther are right, but there’s a very large discrepancy between “ducking it” as a result of functional muscle strength/tissue health, and “ducking it” by forcing a non-functional pelvic girdle into that position.

    I think it’s important to make that note, and help people to get into functional strength and stability. Then the pelvis will naturally fall into the position you describe.

  19. Can you post pics of humans “tucking it” vs “ducking it” because I’m really not getting it. Tucking the pelvis flattens the butt but also gets rid of the S-curve, from what I understand. And I don’t get how you can flatten the S-curve while putting the butt out.

  20. I actually have the opposite problem – after injuring my back in 2006 I developed spinal lordosis – or “duck butt” according to my girlfriend! Example picture here:

    It is very detrimental when it comes to exercise – anything overhead (shoulder presses, overhead squats, etc.) are very difficult as a spine with too much lordosis cannot properly support the weight. The common advice is to “keep the weight over your spine” which cannot be safely done when the base of the spine is pushed back further than the rest.

    Every day, especially while working, I have to make a conscious effort to “straighten” my spine, eliminating the exaggerated curve and tightening my core. I have yet to see much improvement after almost 3 years of physical therapy and CrossFit so I am debating getting a lower back scoliosis brace.

  21. Mark, Would be great to see pics of each position as Sonya requested.

  22. There’s a youtube video with Esther Gokhale giving a lecture at Google… worth a look.

    The part I found most useful was when she talked about rolling the shoulders up and then back.

    Also (not relating to posture) there’s a guy who did a study and came up with the most effective exercises to prevent lower back pain, I forget who it was, but it seemed like a good thing.

  23. Hey Mark,
    How about ppl with Limb Lenght Discrepancy?
    Should we continue to use our shoe lift?
    have you any thought on this issue?

    1. I have a leg length discrepancy on 15mm. My chiropractor recommended shoe lifts, which I used for years. Then when I had some back pain when I was at university, I went to a physio therapist and he said get rid of them. He said the body adapts. Since then I have tended to have less back pain on average. However, I’m not sure if it’s right.

      1. hmm 15mm is exactly what I have.
        My back pain and sciatica have disappeared since using a 10mm heel lift for all activities, and being treated with ART.
        I really wish my body would adapt, but looking at x-rays of the functional scoliosis in my spine when standing without the lift does not make me happy.
        with the lift my spine in x-ray looks fairly straight.
        my chiro says to use the lift, but it does not let me be barefoot to much!

      2. The key to using a lift in the shoe is don’t just lift the heel you need to lift the whole foot. And your body will adapt to inequity but not always in a good way. My daughter has a LLD and her body has developed rotoscoliosis because of it. The key to posture is in the pelvis but you want the sacrum and SI joints to bear the weight because thats how we are designed, and the eyes will always seek out the horizon, the brain will figure out a way to do this any way possible, this can cause a lot of muscular inequity,resulting in pain. I believe strengthing core muscles is the most important way to relieve back pn.

  24. Just wondering if you would be able to post a video or images of someone moving into the correct position in a seated &/or standing position..

    I can understand the instruction however it would be beneficial.

  25. Rodney,

    Yes, head and neck posture is extremely important. I say that having suffered excruciating pain in my shoulder, arm and hand last August related to brachial plexus nerve compression due to a forward head position/slouching at my desk for hours. I got better using posture, sleep and exercise suggestions from Esther Gokhale and Jolie Bookspan, (after many useless trips to the chiro, doctor and accupuncturist). *You do not ever want to have this problem.* I suggest Googling “forward head position” and “Bookspan forward head neck pain”, and of course Gokhale’s book is great.

    I had posture issues for years (I am 42) before this affected me. Now, while you don’t have a bad problem or pain, is the time to fix your head position!

  26. LietaB,

    Thanks for the information. I have no pain, but my neck is crunchy sounding when I rotate it in circles. Not sure what is crunching, but I certainly need to address it now!

    I would love to see a post on Primal Beds and sleeping positions as suggested above. I recently started online researching as I prepare to replace my old sagging mattress. As a stomach and side sleeper, I wish I could sleep on my back, but I just can’t do it. Lots of confusing info out there.

  27. Classically trained stage actors tend to have amazing posture. Alexander technique is amazing for fixing your posture, natural walk and gait. Guess what this technique teaches: the forward lean and and the butt slightly out. Also, best done on bare feet.
    All very primal!!!

  28. Posture is the result of actions. Good posture is the result of good actions.Since everyone here is into the primal thing it is fundemental that we realize that on its own the body has perfect posture. “we” get in the way with tension, emotions, fatigue, and lack of body awareness. Learn to relax and move your body and realize you cannot seperate the body from the mind.

  29. Coincidental post. I just had a back X-ray and have an extra vertebra!

    1. Ive seen that before, do you have alot of back pain? You might want to seek out a massage therapist,one with neuromuscular training,go to to check out
      Doug Nelson’s web site.

  30. Just hooked up via podcast. Not BS. Very interesting and beneficial stuff. I’ve now got on the boat.

  31. This solves a problem for me. I am able to run medium distances barefoot, but walking barefoot has been a little uncomfortable for me because it’s harder to walk on the forefoot than to run on it. These posture adjustments make it a lot easier to walk on the forefoot.

  32. Pregnancy is giving me a lot of back soreness, and I’m still in the first trimester. I bet it has everything to do with how I’m sucking in my belly and tucking my pelvis to avoid looking pregnant. I guess it’s better to let it all out?

  33. @caitlin: there is a fairly recent published study in Nature showing how the pregnant body changes structure – precisely to accommodate that growing fetus – so yes, let it hang out (remember there are only 4 ligaments that support the uterus).

    if you have much more than the usual pregnancy-related lower back pain, and your pain extends into your groin, you should also consider symphysis pubis dysfunction (most OBs will pooh-pooh it, but there is a treasure trove on the internet).

  34. Mark, I found lots of support and advice on my walking/ligamentous laxity/ knee/ foot arch strengthening vs, stretching “its complicated'” in forum threads on glidewalking & feet. How and when to practice what, when to use arch supports as you’re building strength…her work is not only for those with back pain! You really are such a good judge of quality and a wonderful “connector”—i think it was Malcolm Gladwell who wrote about the genius of people who are like hubs to create communities–in your case, of discerning concern.

  35. Have you checked out Pete Egoscue? He too, has some fabulous advice on everything related to this. He even has simple exercises that you can watch and perform to treat immediate problems on his website. I literally felt my neck shifting back into alignment! His exercise routine reminds me so much of yours, also! Thank you for this site, I’m excited about learning more!

  36. True that everyone is quite different and that some may need to tuck it and others to reverse it. A firm mattress is good for those that have back problems. Sitting in a good position will also eliminate any potential neck problems as well.

  37. It is hard to visualise this. The following might be of use to someone…I stand by it 🙂

    I’ve been practicing tai chi for 5 years which has an emphasis on posture to be stable, light-footed and bio-mechanically efficient. Generally: feet parallel, don’t lock knees, extend the back (flatten) by sinking the tail bone and extending the neck up like someone is holding you behind the ears. Shoulders down.

    We liken the spine and pelvis to a soup ladel which sounds familiar to your ‘J’. The abs should be relaxed – there are core muscles inside that pull the front of the hip level.

    People lock their knees to be taller, then have to crank the torso backwards to straighten up, and then crank the neck forwards to see straight again – it’s very unstable and incites many problems. Like the arms, the legs have a natural bend (obviously the legs are bent a lot more when we are practicing tai chi ‘form’ moves than just standing around).

  38. Hello everyone! How fantastic to have a discussion going on about such an overlooked yet vastly important topic: Posture. As a 23 year old female without previous back pain, I had never given my posture a second thought. Yet as soon I discovered the Gokhale Method, I have felt relief that I hadn’t thought possible.

    Or drop by the EG Wellness Center in Palo Alto. Group and private classes are offered to reform your posture with hands-on training! Many patients say that the Gokhale Method has changed their lives!!

    Check out Esther’s book reviews, they speak for themselves:

  39. Thank you for this post on posture and introducing me to the Gokhale method. I often write about this topic and this method is brand new to me. The concept of a J-Spine is foreign to me as a kinesiologist and your post/Esther’s work has stimulated a number of conversations with my colleagues in chiropractic, physiotherapy, kinesiology, active release therapy and athletic therapy. We actually try to correct ‘daffy duck’ syndrome. I look forward to connecting with you as I explore this topic further.

  40. Another big thanks for this post!

    I was persevering with Dreyer’s “Chi Walking” thinking the back pain was unrelated or was due to imperfect technique. But, a week of practicing Gokhale’s “Glidewalking” has eliminated the pains and the chiropractor visits. Gokhales’s advice is remarkably different in terms of pelvic position, body lean, toe action, arm position, etc.

    Evidently, posture advice, walking advice, etc., is just another part of the sorry greed-based health care system disinformation story.

    Sometimes, it is tough to detect the authors/experts caught in the CW commode, and thanks to Mark for featuring some of those who are not, like Gokhale.

  41. My posture has improved a lot recently. My wife pinches me every time I’m not standing or sitting up straight! Hurts but works!

  42. Marc, I am glad to see posture getting such needed attention. I’ve always thought that your pictures seemed to show you with your shoulders rounded and not back and your abs contracted instead of relaxed. Maybe you were trying to emphasize the abs in those shirtless poses or maybe you are trying to get some individual training with Myra. Thanks for all of the great info.

  43. The best book I ever saw about good posture and natural balance was actually a martial arts book: Tim Cartmell’s “Principles, Analysis, and Application of Effortless Combat Throws.” The first 50 pages are devoted entirely to proper, natural balance–because “effortless throwing” is all about first maintaining proper balance and disrupting your opponent’s. THEN you can throw anybody.

  44. Hi Mark,
    I just had to send you a quick note with a BIG THANK YOU for bringing Esther’s work and book to my attention!! I have been dealing with unrelenting sciatica for over 2.5 years. I’ve spent literally thousands of dollars on different therapies, books, back rests, I can’t even name it all other than to say none of it worked. My next stop was the surgeon, but thankfully I read this blog and ordered her book and attended one of her free webinars and watched her video on YouTube. I can’t believe it but my pain has all but disappeared. I can make it come back of course, but by applying her principles I can now make it stop or reduce! I am estatic! I cannot thank you enough!! You are a good man Mr. Sisson! I’m so glad you write this blog, wrote that great book and now a great cookbook! I count you as one of my lucky stars!

  45. Hi Mark
    I found this article in your site coming back from Esther’s site, where marksdailyapple is listed in the references 🙂
    I have been using her method with great success, I beleive it is the best for getting rid of back pain and fixing the posture. Once you read the book you get a new awareness about posture that stays with you, and this is a very good thing. It is great that you published your article in your site. I only with that you had not used the Daffy Duck simil, because for the person who has not read the book it gives the wrong idea, and they might end up with a posture “lordosis type” instead of the correct pelvis anteversion, which is more like a J form. This is a minor thing: anyone buying the book will see the correct process.
    Grok on! – but with good posture 🙂

  46. Hi Mark,

    I’ve been enjoying your site for a few weeks now but now I have to chime in.

    First of all, Esther’s work is a great jumping off point. She actually learned it from a researcher in France named Noelle Peres. Ms. Peres was an Iyengar student and he set her on the path of figuring out why the westerners that were coming to learn Yoga just couldn’t embody the same relaxation and most importantly-natural body shape. This was in the 70’s.

    Esther worked with Noelle for a short time (1 year)-and though her work is great for the basics and looking at the position of our body, there is a huuuuge amount of research and information that relates to posture or more importantly: our optimal alignment. There is a glorious (okay-and sometimes grueling) process of RESTORATION with the body. Relaxing muscles, moving with more ease and more importantly teaching the muscles how to support structure–especially in the core. You wouldn’t believe the core work. Relaxing. Letting go. And voila: you still walk away sore, because you have worked your muscles.

    Over time (not a huge amount) the muscles take on new tone, shape and more importantly an easy strength (because it is born out of relaxation.)

    I’ll leave it at that for now. I’m working on my website now. I have been certified by the Balance Center in Palo Alto (another offshoot of Noelle’s work that continues a relationship with her). I have worked a lot with our French teachers as well–BUT my real point ending here is that anyone is free to email me with any questions at all.

    Thanks for the book, the great recipes, and one of the most enjoyable blogs on the internet Mark. I learn a lot here.

  47. Still the biggest thing I need to work on. It’s tough when you’ve been on a computer since you’re young to force yourself to sit up properly. Damn technology!

    I’ve actually been thinking about getting a stand-up desk. I feel like it might force me to be more productive anyway. Anyone here have experience with one of them?

  48. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!!!! This was exactly the straight forward advice I have been searching for for ages. I can’t thank you enough for giving me some clarity and peace reguarding correct posture.

    Sedintarianism has wreaked havoc on my life, and this website is one of the biggest keys to taking it back. THANK YOU! 😀

  49. Ok, that dailybeast article you linked to doesn’t exactly say “it rarely works” like you claim. It actually says surgery and non-surgical approaches are about the same after two years, but surgery is a faster, though more expensive option.

  50. Ok I have been a researcher for the past 40+ years dealing with this problem alot.

    The ‘duck posture’ Does feel better as it is more natural to the way our bodies have developed now. Look at how most people stand it is like this due to certain muscles being tighter and pulling forward.

    However it is NOT good posture. This has been proven time and time again. Good posture is hard to get due to lifestyles and can hurt at the beginning but this has been researched thousands of times so is not open to discussion. Duck feels good due to our lazy relaxed lives.

  51. Fantastic post but I was wanting to know if you could write a litte more on this topic? I’d be very grateful if you could elaborate a little bit further. Thanks!

  52. This is advice is too simple. A Daffy Duck posture itself will worsen any existing lordosis. I agree that hips should be “back” but only to the extent that the torso is slightly angling forward. A tucked (i.e. “level”) pelvis is still important in standing posture.

  53. While your post can help people in the S-posture end of the spectrum, many people go too far off the Daffy Duck end of the posture spectrum as well. Beyond the Daffy Duck and S-posture distinction, different peoples’ posture problems can vary greatly due to various factors such as weak cores, tight muscles, and asymmetry.

    A more universally applicable guide to good posture would involve stacking the body’s blocks of weight in line so that minimal effort is exerted to maintain an upright stance, and such that any subsequent movement can be initiated with minimal effort. The second part of the statement cannot be overemphasized: while there are many alignments of the body that are local minima in terms of energy expenditure, they do not necessarily constitute good posture.

    This can be achieved through experimenting with realigning and engaging/relaxing different sets of muscles, as each individual’s posture problems are different. One way to do this is to take a dance class — not to learn the moves, but to learn how your body moves.

  54. Posture is over rated. The key to avoiding back pain is not in the pelvis.
    Read “Healing Back Pain” by Dr. Sarno. This book changed my life and the way that I think about chronic pain.

  55. Hi

    But how do sit girls who don’t have a penis (pelvis)? You misspelled that word too. Can we have a tutorial too? I’m 17 years and already have a hump. please help me since i want to become either a moviestar or an english-teacher. I am very intelligent and despite my hump still pretty. If you write a tutorial for girls too, i could become a perfect women also physically. thank you for your website!

    Marka Smart

  56. I have had back and neck pains due to poor posture but found that Egoscue’s simple exercises, or even a once-a-week yoga class, helped quite a bit. Yoga was especially good for breathing with good posture. This one little suggestion from yoga helps me too: “lift your heart.” Don’t tense your muscles to force some posture — just look up a bit and lift your heart.

  57. I suggest checking out the Alexander technique for this, it’s given me the best information I could find, and in great detail.

  58. This natural pose proposed above is actually what is required in tango. While dancing tango, you’re supposed to walk a bit leaned forward so that it is almost a V-shape when you’re connected with your partner with the embrace. Correct posture changes (improves) your dance a lot makes you a better dancer!
    Proposal: Is tango primal? Haha!

  59. Are you kidding me? You’re basically telling everyone to get into anterior pelvic tilt!

  60. This anteverted pelvis position (butt sticking out) is exactly what everyone already does! This is NOT good posture. What we really want to do is learn how to tilt the pelvis in order to STRAIGHTEN the back. This aligns the spine correctly for any sport and improves the breathing. Sticking out the butt (anteverted hips) disconnects your upper and lower body from getting a unified chain for movement and power delivery.

  61. You say stick the butt out, but that creates more curvature in the lower spine, doesn’t it? How is that compatible with your advice to have a straighter back? Doesn’t seem to make sense.

    Your method seems directly contrary to the Chi method. Chi advises tucking (they call it leveling) the top of the pelvis, I.e. using your lower abdominal muscles to rotate the pelvis such that the butt moves in, not out as you advise. They argue that too much sitting weakens our lower abdominals causing the lower backbone to slump forward, i.e, into your butt-sticking-out position. This slump forward creates an exxagerated curve in the lower spine, in turn causing the vertebrae to not stack level on top of each other. They pinch, and over years this pinching leads to degeneration of the pinched side of these vital cushioning discs.

    Who are we to believe?

  62. I am a Gokhale Method teacher in NYC, trained by Esther Gokhale. Yesterday I gave a free intro workshop and a student attended because of your writing about Esther(he was in his late 20s by the way). He feels the nutritional philosophy of your site is somewhat analogous to the posture philosophy of the Gokhale method. And I agree! Just subscribed to get your emails. Perhaps we can get Esther to do another guest posting(like the samba post). The work has grown a lot since 2009 with teachers in different parts of the world and thousands have benefitted from our teaching. Sadly, store mannequins today look a lot like the flappers in your article and I see this posture at the gym all the time.

  63. V good article. I teach the Gokhale Method in San Francisco and have seen such remarkable results. It is a method that works if you work it!!