Perfecting Posture – The Occipital Touch

So your client can get to a neutral spine no problem.  He or she has just the right amount of kyphosis in the thoracic curve, lordosis in the lumbar curve and the chin tucked back and in to create the optimal cervical curve to perfectly perch the head at the top of the vertical gravity line.  Whew!  Your client can do neutral.

But there’s more to posture than just a neutral spine.  This is where axial elongation is key.  Achieving this requires engagement all the way from the arches of the feet, up the inner thigh and pelvic floor to the front and back of the trunk.  But there’s more.  Try it.  What’s missing?  How can we cue the client to engage and elongate through the cervical spine?

One-on-one with a client, the occipital touch cue is magical and immediately effective.  To do this, put the pointer finger of your hand on the neck, behind the earlobe, just where the jaw bone comes in (this is where the occiput bone of the skull ends).  Put your thumb on the neck, just where it begins to spread out to connect to the shoulder.  Then spread these two fingers gently, maintaining contact with the client’s body (It helps to employ both hands so you can do this on both sides of the neck). The effect is direct and instantaneous.  The client’s neck will grow an inch in length and any slight inconsistencies with the posture lower down on the spine will be corrected.  Try it – on yourself, as you read this.


Unfortunately, as many of us teach in a larger class setting, there’s no way we can walk around and employ the magical occipital touch on all the students.  Here’s where the imagery cue comes in.  Imagine you are wearing long, dangly earrings.  They are so long that they just touch your shoulders.  Create enough length through your neck and cervical spine to lift the earrings off your shoulders so they can dangle freely.  Et voilà.

This is also a really effective cue (both the corrective touch and the imagery) for clients who tend to tense their shoulders and let them creep upwards.

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