Streamline Fitness


Posture know how

03 April 2014 By In Blog

As young children we are able to move freely, with balance, fluidity and less tension in our bodies. The stressful and awkward environments that we begin to encounter as an young adult and then as we age causes us to start to adapt to incorrect patterns of tense awkward movements and holding of bad postures.

Badly designed car seats, very comfy sofas, poor mattress support in bed all contribute too enhancing an already stressed body posture. On top of this add in emotional and work stresses and before we know it we have a recipe for overworked global (larger muscles) and weak under-used postural muscles. Most of this will happen unconsciously and develop over a period of time before we actually become aware of the change are selves. Long-term bad posture can cause back pain and other areas of the body to become strained inflexible and less mobile.

We have become a nation of professional sitters at desks and in cars or even on sofas and this can cause the shoulders to round; this can stop the lungs from expanding properly and therefore cause shallow breathing or even respiratory problems. This sort of slouching posture can put pressure on the internal organs such as the digestive system. When sitting, minimise the amounts of time in a slouched posture. Take a break and stand up and stretch or walk around to move the legs. A firm cushion placed behind the back will help to keep the body more upright. If you are seated watching television, be in a position where you are facing the television as opposed to being twisted. When seated in your car, if you need to reverse try not to sharply twist, release the shoulders down as you turn to look over the shoulder. When sleeping your mattress needs to be supportive, not too soft as this could actually reinforce bad posture. A pillow ideally should mould to the curves of the neck. Regularly lying on your front while asleep with the head twisted to one side can twist the neck and create muscle imbalance. Carrying heavy bags regularly on one shoulder also causes muscle imbalance, if this is necessary then try to alternate sides holding the bag. A rucksack is the best option for keeping the weight evenly distributed.

We also can hold poor posture through being unhappy or depressed or even shy and unconfident. It is quite possible to be unaware of the way we are holding this tension. The nerve pathways that leave the brain go through the muscles so it is possible that we will sometimes actually experience what we are thinking or feeling. Stop for a moment while you are reading this article and try to notice how you are standing or sitting and which areas of the body feel tense. Is it your neck or shoulders or both which feel tight? Are you standing or sitting with more weight taken to one side of the body. Are you crossing your legs over whilst seated, if so is it always the right leg over the left because it feels most comfortable? If it is a yes to any of these points then I would be almost be 100% sure that you regularly hold your body in this way because it has become your posture!
Your body has become accustomed to you placing it into how you prefer it to be. This however may feel comfortable at the time you are in that posture but later on the body will react to the muscles being pulled and strained into incorrect postures. You will need to become more aware of how you are holding your body and where the tensions are. Once this is recognised then re-education of the body's posture can begin!

To be able to set up the correct posture of the body at any time in any position, it is important to know what neutral or natural spine positioning is. In the last article I described how the spine has three main natural curves. To maintain correct posture at any time it is important that none of these natural curves become over emphasised or strained. Unfortunately through lack of body position awareness and factors such as discussed earlier this can happen very easily without us realising the changes and only then do we notice as we become aware of a nagging or dull ache.

It may help to stand in front of a mirror to see the posture of the body changing. Correct standing posture can be set up by standing with the feet hip distance apart, keeping knees natural (not too straight or too bent). The tailbone at the base of the spine should drop downwards to the floor, imagine a piece of string attached to it with a lightweight on that holding it there. This should mean the pelvis will be level. The lower back will have a natural inwards curve and the mid back a gentle outer curve. Think of yourself lifting the upper body upwards out of the hips, feel your shoulders release downwards with shoulders slightly pulled back so the front of the chest opens out so you can breathe more freely. Think of your head being balanced on top of the spine as opposed to carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders! It may help to imagine that you have a bunch of helium balloons attached to the head keeping it floating on top of the spine. Now do you feel taller and more confident? !

The same rules of posture will apply when you are seated although sometimes it is not always possible to get exactly into full correct posture. If sitting at a desk, aim for knees in line with the hips, you can always place a thick phone book on the floor to elevate the feet to take pressure off the legs pulling into the hips. , Make sure that you position yourself firmly onto the chair and notice that the pelvis has not tilted forwards or backwards. If you lift your upper body away from the hips this will help the pelvis position and the upper body posture being the same as described above. If you are looking at a computer or laptop, try to have the screen at your eye-level as opposed to looking down at it.

Once this practise of more natural posture is applied on a regular basis our bodies will start to regonise the repeated patterns of holding the correct posture and hopefully you will find yourself holding the body less stressfully and feeling less tension in the neck, shoulders and back.
In the next article I will be describing how to use your breathing to help strengthen the postural muscles effectively . However before then remember to learn and practice good posture so that you are ready for the breath control. Happy practice!

Read 2722 times Last modified on Thursday, 06 November 2014 15:25
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