Why Jordan Peterson Saying Standing Up Straight is WRONG

A Lobster’s Guide to Bad Postural Advice

So, you’ve heard of Jordan Peterson, right? The guy who’s been stirring up all sorts of controversy with his book, “12 Rules for Life”?

Well, today we’re going to take a look at Rule 1: “Stand up straight with your shoulders back”.

Sounds simple, right? But what if I told you that this supposed harmless advice is…

The worst…thing…ever.

Why is that?

Read the blog, watch the video, and listen to the podcast below to learn about it.

The Straight-Up Problem with Peterson’s Posture

Imagine for a moment that you’re a skyscraper.

For real. Stick with me!

Don’t worry, you’re a cool looking one (photo credit: Yhz1221)

Skyscrapers sway a little to withstand the elements. If you built a rigid skyscraper, it would crumble under the pressure. (I would do the riff from that Queen song here, but I don’t want to end up like Vanilla Ice and owe them my soul).

Apply that same principle to your body. Standing up straight with your shoulders back all the time? You may as well be a rigidly built skyscraper in a hurricane. It’s not going to end well.

Breathing: It’s Kinda Important

Fun fact: standing up straight with your shoulders back LIMITS your BREATHING.

Our rib cage should expand in all directions as we breathe in. But when you’re pulling a Superman pose, you’re limiting that expansion. Unless you’ve somehow evolved to not need oxygen, that’s a problem.

So, What’s the Solution?

Now, I’m not suggesting we all start walking around slouched. Like someone on a World of Warcraft bender finishing their 3rd Mountain Dew.

The key isn’t to adopt a specific posture but to be able to assume many postures. The more postures you can attain, the less your body will strain (BARS!).

Continual ability to shift postures limits overloading any one specific area. That’s the crux of the issue with good ole’ JP’s posture advice.

But what if you are stiff as all hell?

Don’t worry, I’ve got 3 exercises that will help with that!

Step 1 – Front to back ribcage expansion

The foam roller abduction reach helps expand the anterior to posterior ribcage dimensions.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Take a foam roller, place it on the middle third of the rib cage, not low, not under the armpit, right in the middle.
  2. Look straight ahead.
  3. Legs stacked atop one another
  4. Get heavy and melt into the foam roller
  5. Top arm reaches toward the wall
  6. Silently breathe in through the nose.
  7. On the mouth exhale, slowly reach your arm towards the wall. 3/10 effort
  8. Continue to melt into the foam roller
  9. Perform 3-5 sets x 5 breaths daily

Step 2 – Upper back expansion

Next up, we’re going to work on expanding your upper back. I like this move for that:

Here are the steps:

  1. Sit at a desk
  2. Miniband around your wrists
  3. Elbows contacting a yoga block
  4. Elbows resting on a table. Lower than your shoulders
  5. Hands either facing each other (easy) or palms facing you (hard)
  6. Eyes forward with chest parallel to the wall
  7. Silent nasal inhale
  8. Soft mouth exhale
  9. During the exhale, slowly move your torso backwards without slouching.
  10. Keep your inner elbows on the yoga block. Spin your arms out.
  11. Perform 3-5 sets x 5 breaths daily

Step 3 – Rip your chest open

Finally, we’re going to work on expanding the front of your chest and the sides of your ribs. And all you have to do is hang out.


Just grab a bar and hang.

And the steps:

  1. Grab a bar with palms forward
  2. Eyes look forward
  3. Hang from the bar
  4. Silent nasal innhale
  5. Soft mouth exhale
  6. Progressively relax on the bar
  7. Perform 3-5 sets x 5 breaths daily

Sum up

So, there you have it. Standing up straight with your shoulders back? Not the best advice. But don’t worry, Jordan, no love lost. Just leave the posture advice to the pro’s!

Here’s a quick recap:

  • Hold one posture = limited sway and breathing.
  • The best standing posture is one that is constantly changing.
  • Improve ribcage mobility to improve motion and the number of postures you can assume

You might be wondering if there is a good sitting posture? If you’re curious, check out this post right here.

Until next time, keep it moving, fam!