I remember watching a home video of my friend’s little girl learning to ride a bike on a basketball court. In the background her father calling out “Look out for the posts don’t run into them.” So she looked very carefully at each post and by golly she ran into each and every one of them. Had she been instructed to ride around or between the poles she would not have hit them.
It was funny but unfortunate. It taught me something, which serves as a metaphor for learning (or unlearning) something which modern people unknowingly tend to do. It is walking along chronically looking downward or looking at your phone. If you are habitually looking downward while walking what happens? After some time your posture will be deeply affected. It’s neither pretty nor healthy. Your head juts in front of your torso, (pulling and potentially damaging the neck) and your rib cage is compressed downward (diminishing lung capacity among other things). Over time that posture becomes habit and even feels comfortable to some. It is your new normal and it is not natural.
Just to prove it to yourself take a look at other people when you are walking. Not everyone but many people’s posture it is very collapsed forward and downward. Even young people have this kind of everyday working posture from looking at phones while walking. This will lead to calcified stiff posture and far worse.
As an Alexander Technique Teacher I have one simple idea that can be helpful for all of us, “Look where you WANT to go and not, where you don’t want to go.”
What does that mean? Apparently the man below wants to go to the center of the earth.
The man below is looking ahead too bad he doesn’t notice he is walking into the street.
It does not mean never glance downward to see what obstacles may be in your way before you might run into them.
It does mean “Look forward and outward.”
Allow your focus to be very flexible
Notice what is around you.
Keep your peripheral vision gently active.
This should help bring your torso lightly upward improving your posture and health.
But best of all study the Alexander Technique to rid yourself of poor postural habits forever.