Standing elevated may feel ‘wrong’

Thursday, June 11th, 2009 | Practice, Standing


I wrote in Standing 101 that practicing elevated standing may raise the following questions:

  1. why do you feel as if you are leaning forwards, or even about to fall forwards?
  2. why do your calves feel tense?
  3. why do your feet start to ache?
  4. why does it feel as if your whole body is making extra effort to stand like this?

If you experience any or all of these, then it is important to know that everything is fine (even it it does not feel this way!). These are the four most common ‘complaints’ the body has to changing its way of being held when standing, and each is easily explained.

  • The feeling of leaning forwards occurs because re-positioning (re-balancing) the body puts it more forwards relative to its old position. This does not mean that you are leaning forwards, even if it feels this way (any more than the feeling of a room spinning when you are dizzy means that the room really is spinning). Of course this feeling disappears the moment you shift back into your old way of standing (with your weight further back) – because this is what your body and brain are used to. If, however, you practice elevated standing for a day or two, then the feeling of leaning forwards will most probably disappear. Your brain acclimatises itself to the new position – this new way of balancing, holding and controlling your body – with the end result that if you return to your ‘old way of standing’ then you will almost certainly feel as if you are leaning backwards. 
  • The calves feel tense or tight because standing elevated causes them to be stretched ever so slightly. Standing elevated lengthens the calf muscles and so they are bound to complain. Standing with your weight further back will stop the complaining because the muscles are allowed to return to their habitual length. The sensation of tightness can be perceived as ‘something wrong’ or as something to be accepted as a part of the process of re-educating your body. While the feeling of leaning forwards passes after a day or so, tightness in the calves usually takes longer. How long is hard to say because accumulated tension levels vary from person to person – it may take a few weeks or months or sometimes longer, it all depends. For me it took many months because my calves were as hard as iron!
  • If your feet start to ache when you stand elevated then it is simply because they are not used to carrying the full weight of the body in this new manner. Stand with your weight comfortably on your heels and you should be able to feel how the fronts of your feet relax and become passive. Repeat this every day for the next ten years and what will happen? The muscles in the front of your feet will gradually weaken, because they do less work. Indeed after many years, they may even start to ‘solidify’ as they lose their natural suppleness and flexibility – something many elderly people are familiar with. When you stand elevated, you force your feet out of early retirement and of course they complain! Suddenly the fronts of your feet are forced to carry the full weight of your body, doing the work they were designed to do. The muscles and tendons in the feet then become stronger and more flexible as they respond to the challenge of carrying the body. The trick is to just keep them working and ignore the complaining (with a little rest in between, of course) until it passes.
  • If you feel that your whole body is making extra effort when standing elevated then this is just an extension of the previous ‘complaint’, only this time it is a reflection of how unfamiliar your whole body is with holding itself up correctly. Regular practice (self re-education) will prove to you that it does become easier to stand elevated. In the end you feel nothing at all, which is the way it should be. Indeed, on one occasion many years ago, I was travelling home on the subway and was so tired that I fell asleep standing – without holding onto anything. I didn’t realise I had slumbered until I suddenly awoke at my station. I was both surprised and inspired by this new experience.


It is easy to get distracted by these complains (and any others that may arise), and then give up, allowing them to function as excuses for returning to your old habits (even when these habits may be contributing to LBP or other disorders). 


A certain amount of conscious effort is therefore necessary in order to re-position the body and keep it there – until it learns to automatically maintain this new position on its own. This is not unlike the extra conscious effort necessary to break any well worn habit such as smoking or driving on the side of the road that ‘feels right’ in countries where they drive on the opposite side.

MUBA tests help strengthen our resolve to practice because:

  1. they correct any tendency to unconsciously ‘wander back into old habits’ (which in my experience happens to everyone during the first period of practice), and
  2. every time we compare elevated with oppressed standing (using the tests) we are once again reminded of the true differences in function.

If you persevere with this you will discover that a little temporary discomfort is a very small price to pay for the many health and performance benefits that true elevated standing (and sitting, moving, etc) gives you access to.


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5 Comments to Standing elevated may feel ‘wrong’

June 15, 2009

The best information i have found exactly here. Keep going Thank you

July 6, 2009

How soon will you update your blog? I’m interested in reading some more information on this issue.

July 9, 2009

Not sure that this is true:), but thanks for a post.

July 30, 2009

Thanks for post. Nice to see such good ideas.

September 24, 2009

The article is ver good. A postal card please more

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