The Posture Manual was published in French in Oct. 2019. It has received great media attention in France and Switzerland, boosting sales up to 1000 copies per month. The book is meant as a self-help manual to improve one's posture and ergonomics in all daily life activities. Every week, a new goal and a new exercise are suggested, illustrated by didactic videos (click to view these 2 useful samples, in English).
It is now ready for publication in English, but I still need to find an editor in the UK, USA or elsewhere: if you can help or know someone who can, please contact me.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Why did you write The Posture Manual?
If we look over 12 months, 85% of the working population has pain somewhere: back, neck, shoulder, knees, etc. Far from getting better, the situation tends to get worse and now affects the youngest people as well. However, a lot is being invested in prevention, and everyone thinks they know a lot about posture: we've all heard "stand up straight", "bend your knees", etc., and we've all heard "bend your knees". Clearly, therefore, the current paradigm is not working well...
I wrote The Posture Manual to propose another approach to the body and musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs): logical, structured and understandable, which allows everyone to better take charge of themselves, both at work and at home. For 15 years, conference after conference, people have asked me why posture never was explained to them in this way: this book tries to make up for lost time.
How different is The Posture Manual?
On the internet and in many training courses, you will find "catalogs of advice": you should this, you should that, etc. Often imprecise, sometimes incorrect, they all have one thing in common: they do not allow you to develop a global understanding of how the body works. I've therefore developed a universal system, based on 3 rules that apply to each of us (Chapter 6). They allow you to improve the way you do things in all your daily activities, to the point where I teach them to all my clients: firefighters, paramedics, office workers, early childhood professionals, gardeners, engineers, etc. In the rest of the book, I use these 3 rules to propose a training plan that is relevant for everyone, which allows you to learn how to sit better, stand better, walk better, bend down better or carry yourself better. Each week, I suggest that you work on your new habits by setting a goal and an exercise. They are illustrated by videos that are freely available and that everyone can send to family, friends and colleagues.
Is it only a matter of posture?
Let's start by agreeing on the concept of posture. Many people have a very static view of posture: you undress, one takes a picture of you sitting or standing, and this is your posture. For me, posture is much more than that: it's everything you do with your muscles and joints, consciously or not, voluntarily or not, 24 hours a day. It's a complex subject, so the goal is not to have a perfect posture, but simply to improve your posture and thereby improve your health.
What's more, the risk is not only related to your posture: at every moment, it is related to what you do (the activity), in which posture, for how long (or how fast), and in which psychological state. In The Posture Manual, we certainly tackle posture, but also other factors to learn how to avoid combinations of risks (being in a bad posture for a long time, doing dangerous things in unhealthy postures, etc.).
Should we eliminate the screens from our lives?
No, this would be an unrealistic recommendation. Let's also note that we didn't wait for the screens to feel pain. However, it is true that they aggravated and generalized the problem. A screen creates postural issues (all the more serious as the screen is small) combined with duration issues (all the more so as the user is young, since we look at the duration per session, per day and over a lifetime). Young children must therefore be prevented from using screens. For the rest of us, we need to control the conditions under which we use them and what we do with them, so that we can better control exposure times. In The Posture Manual, I offer duration benchmarks, as well as advice on ergonomics, both in the office and at home.
How much do we need to invest?
The Posture Manual is based on the Mensendieck method, which in my opinion is characterized by the fact that it uses gravity as its main tool: nothing very expensive in that respect. The other cornerstone of the book is ergonomics, which sometimes requires some investment (chair, desk, etc.). Aware however that I'm primarily speaking to private people, I show how to improve things without spending too much (e.g. by using cushions or by tinkering). But above all, I show you how to stop losing money on useless or badly thought-out purchases: how to choose your sofa, your kitchen chair, etc. At the end of Chapter 5, I make you aware of the importance of thinking in the short vs. medium term: in the short term, here is what I can do with cushions, crafts and exercises to manage the problem; in the medium term, with more financial means, here is how I can solve it.
My primary goal is to make you autonomous, whoever you are and wherever you are, I'm not in the habit of bringing everything back to money. On the other hand, it is true that you will have to show some determination: no effort, no gain.
What if I'm already in pain?
The Posture Manual is not here to compete with your doctor or therapist, but rather to help you complete their work. Show him the book, and discuss together the most relevant aspects of your pathology. In this way, you will prolong the effects of the treatment outside the office.
Also, don't be a fatalist. There is a saying that has never been contradicted: whatever your life, whatever your health, you will be better off if you use your body well than if you use it badly. We can't solve everything, but we all have something to improve...
Can following the advice of The Posture Manual hurt?
In order not to injure anyone, The Posture Manual follows a very conservative approach, while insisting on two essential points: listen to yourself, and practice slowly and precisely. It is quite possible that some exercises will awaken muscles that are not used to working, and stretch others that would gladly remain shortened. However, these reconditioning aches are temporary. In case of doubt, talk to your therapist.
It is also true that everyone has his or her own abilities, due to his or her constitution, medical history, genetics, lifestyle, etc. Remember that we are not trying to compare you to me or any other trained professional: we are trying to compare you to yourself, i.e. to help you improve. Well-being comes well before perfection, in which I don't believe very much: everyone sometimes uses their body badly, incl. myself. The Posture Manual teaches you to open your eyes to what you are doing wrong, and gives you the tools to catch up when you realize it. Little by little, you will do better and better, each one of us at his own pace.
So: is this a book to prevent or to cure?
Every health professional knows that we only treat after diagnosis. So it would have been irresponsible of me to pretend to write a book that treats people I've never met, and about whom I know nothing. Therefore, I concentrated on the "common core" of the posture: what everyone must know. So it's on one hand a book to prevent (i.e. for those who are not in pain), and on the other hand a book to help people who are in pain. It is necessary for your treatment (and often underestimated), but often it will not be enough: don't think that buying The Posture Manual will save you from going to the doctor in case of severe or persistent pain.
That said, many of the exercises you find in the book are exercises that also provide relief if done well. In particular, all the exercises with a horizontal back (on all fours or lying down) help you to maintain the mobility of the spine without putting any weight on it: this is step 1 in case of pain, because the movement induces blood circulation and therefore oxygenation of the tissues. Relaxation exercises also serve this purpose, as long as you remain within your comfort zone (i.e. you do not hurt yourself: pain would generate a contraction reflex that you would like to avoid at all costs).
On a global scale, what should we do now?
I believe that there are three areas of work: companies, schools and families.
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