My posture has been poor as of late. Whether it’s lying on the couch reading my tablet or slouching over to see the screen on my laptop. I know I need to concentrate more and more each day on keeping my shoulders back, on keeping my chin up, and sticking out my chest. I’ve gotten too lazy and haven’t really been incorporating a balanced BACK ATTACK.
What does our posture say about us? This is a simple concept but one that is so often overlooked when it comes to our overall wellness and often deters from our ability to stay on THE HIGHWAY.
A recent Human Kinetics (HK) publication spoke of posture in two forms. They discuss both the physical attributes of good posture but also the downfalls of a mismanaged psyche and how the same can lead to postural defect. They state, “Good posture requires a person to maintain the alignment of certain body parts; poor posture is often acknowledged as a cause of musculoskeletal pain, joint restriction, or general discomfort. When used in the context of therapy, athletic training, physiotherapy, massage therapy, osteopathy or chiropractic, for example the term posture more precisely describes the relationships among various parts of the body, their anatomical arrangement and how well they do or do not fit together…” Adding, “Of course, the postures we assume provide clues to not only the condition of our bodies; traumas and injuries old and new, and mild or more serious pathologies. It’s also how we feel about ourselves; our confidence (or lack of it), how much energy we have (or are lacking), how enthusiastic (or unenthusiastic) we feel, or whether we feel certain and relaxed (or anxious and tense). Intriguingly, we all almost always adopt the same postures in response to the same emotions.”
To repeat, Kyphosis describes the forward rounding of the shoulders, a position often brought on by weakness or imbalance in thoracic spines musculature as well as fatigue in keeping these muscles engaged and firing. Genu Valgus is also a condition brought on by weak hip musculature, causing the hip and pelvis to collapse and forcing the knees into a Knock Knee position.
I constantly preach the latter portion, the “how do we feel about ourselves” and “how does this lead to our postural defects?” Are we engaging at all times through our daily interactions with others or are we defensive? Watching simple non-verbal Q’s of someone’s body language can often lead to a better understanding of that persons make up. When speaking with others, are my arms crossed in front, guarding the walls that have been built over the years? What am I hiding? I propose a more engaging approach: Head and neck high, chest out, hands to the side in a neutral position and relaxed versus uptight. THE EYES ARE ON THE ROAD!
Are we confident in ourselves and are others reading those same non-verbal Q’s we emit? Do we like the message we are sending? How can we /I work on this?
I propose daily practice sessions to start to concentrate on our postures. Practice 5-10 minutes per day and attempt to be cognizant throughout the day. Your practice session involves looking in the mirror at your posture, shoulder positioning, leg stance, and your facial expression. Can I improve in my engaging skills? Use this practice session to assist you.
For those of you who have worked with me, you know how much emphasis I place on how you carry yourselves and how engaged I expect you to become. I stress the importance of walking tall and proud with your shoulders back and chest and core engaged. I stress free and easy breathing. During this exercise, think deeply about the walls you may have put up and address them! Is it necessary for me to be expending so much energy to retain these walls? Which ones do I want to start to work on and dismantle? An additional exercise could simply be observing others throughout your day and see what messages these people may be sending!
During Your Workout
Are you looking down on the treadmill versus standing tall and looking onto the horizon? Is your chest out and are your breathing patterns relaxed? Are there similarities to a top-performing car? You bet! I call this “THE ALIGNMENT”. A Poor alignment predisposes you to injury and breakdown. To stay on the HIGHWAY of HEALTH, I propose to you to incorporate these simple daily exercises that will improve your chances of staying aligned and reduce the probability of system breakdown.
- Relaxed Breathing and Facial Muscles
- Engage Abdominals / Core
- Proper Leg Stance
- Shoulders Back
- Equal Balance When Weight Training (Multi Planes)
Lastly, I want to throw out a TIP. If you are able, have someone you know film your whole running session, or a good five to ten minute session. This person could be a loved one, friend, coworker, or a Certified Athletic Trainer (NATA.ORG). Have them film you from various angles and show everything from your stride, to your hand motion, to your head and neck movement. Slowly review your tape and write notes on the items you see that need addressing. Make subtle changes and visually see yourself as you do each subsequent workout. Incorporate the changes over a period of time, all the while working on correcting the same. If you’re not sure what you’re looking for, ask the advice of a Certified Athletic Trainer (NATABOC) near you. I’m sure they would love to help. After several weeks of practice, re-film a session and notice the changes.
Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing, love to hear from you.
All the best until next time, Sandy
REFERENCES: Johnson, Jane POSTURAL ASSESSMENT pp 1-176. 2012. Human Kinetics