What is Kinesthetic Awareness?

Examples Of Poor Posture Seated Man Slouching And Woman With Swayback

Did you ever think you were sitting upright when you were slumped? Or maybe you were bent backwards in standing when you thought you were upright! It is normal to feel shocked when you realize your lack of awareness for position sense (Kinesthetic Awareness). This kind of experience is common for clients that come for treatment at Hart Physical Therapy.

Here are some before and after pictures of two individuals who thought they were sitting or standing erect with a good posture. However, after seeing a picture that showed them otherwise, they realized that their position sense was way off or “out of kilter.”

Woman Demonstrating Poor Standing Posture
Standing posture before
“Aha” experience
Woman Demonstrating Improved Standing Posture
“Butt Out Back” position allows this woman to stand more upright even though she felt like she was leaning forward

How you move and hold or position yourself when sitting, standing, or even lying down has a significant impact on your health. Repetitive movements in and out of bed and sit to stand or stand to sit can act as micro trauma and over the years cause deformation to tissues and structures that leave one’s neuro, muscular, skeletal, and connective tissue health in the direction of degeneration. The brain develops a memory or negative attachment to this stressful way of moving even though it causes deformation to structures including the nervous system. The nervous system is unaware and powerless to correct the inaccurate dominant memory. Consequently, the nervous system adapts down to the dysfunctional patterns of movement even though they are harmful because they are ingrained, familiar, and associated with “feeling comfortable” being they have become the dominant memory or pattern for that position or movement. This is the meaning of a habit and why it takes kinesthetic awareness, position sense, or a healthy body/mind connection, to change a habit.

Male Patient Sitting Slumped
Sitting posture before
“Aha” experience
Male Patient Sitting Erect
“Butt Out Back” position allows this man to sit more upright even though he felt like he was leaning backwards

Poor posture and mechanically stressful movement are habitual and damaging to your neuro, muscular, skeletal, and connective tissue health. Unfortunately, if you do not give yourself the opportunity to realize and experience the difference, you will continue with your old, familiar, comfortable habit that you think is normal and healthy, and stay in the direction of degeneration. This is how many people age and it is not a part of the normal aging process. It is a sign of poor neuro, muscular, skeletal, and connective tissue health.

Tips for Success: This simple kinesthetic exercise can be done throughout the day to increase your postural awareness. Check to feel if your body has a sense of your bottom or butt being out back vs tucked under. This “butt out back” position tugs on the connective tissue throughout your core giving your chest a feeling of being up rather than depressed or slumped. Without forcing this “butt out back” position, enjoy the feeling of a more balanced upright posture.