Have You Checked Your Posture Today?
Updated: May 3, 2020
Why is having good posture so important?
A good posture is a sign of good health. Imagine yourself with an elongated spine, symmetrical shoulders, a flat back and an open chest; all allowing for proper breath, vitality and a positive mood. Now picture yourself with a bad posture- rounded shoulders, rounded upper back, closed in on the diaphragm, difficulty breathing, pain... terrible mood. Our posture can answer a lot of questions about what is happening to us, including our happiness.
Posture is an indication of the overall state the person is in. An open, elongated state allows for proper biomechanics in the body to function, allows for proper circulation and breath to flow, increasing oxygen to the brain, ultimately having the effect of a calm and clear mind. The opposite is not so pleasant; a rounded spine immediately closes in the chest and diaphragm, the throat is shortened, the breath is shortened, which allows less oxygen to travel to the brain therefore becoming more susceptible to irritability, headaches, fatigue, stress and an overall bad mood.
What causes the body to change in posture?
Attitudes and habits define the position of the person because posture is a manifestation of the overall state the person is in. Typically a person's behaviour, mindset and patterns all have an effect in the way they line-up in relation to gravity. We must activate our core and our muscles to hold up the body's structures against gravity. This is mainly true for our habits, our routines, our repetitive movements and how the body holds up against doing the same actions every single day.
Now, the attitude or mood that you're in during this habit can have a significant impact. For example, a husband and wife were making their bed together, a very normal daily task, however the husband was being passive aggressive with his wife. When she asked him to hand her one of the pillows (again- an everyday, very light action), his bad attitude combined with a repetitive movement sent an electric shock sensation to his lumbars and he "blocked"! In that moment, the body absorbed the negative energy from his bad mood, may have pinched a nerve or blocked a sacro-iliac joint and now has to deal with finding relief (hopefully fast!). On a side note, it is very plausible and fair to assume he already had some lumbar tension and that is why the tension increased in that area at that moment. Had he been in a good mood and stress-free at that moment, the act of passing the pillow would have gone unnoticed and perhaps would have even had a lovely day. Emotions obviously play a big role in our attitudes but we must learn to recognize and control them. Let's leave that for a whole other blog post!
Different types of postures
When we hear the word posture we immediately think of the upper back, it is the most common visual and even I started you off with that image. However when determining the different types of postures for all the different body parts, the numbers are endless. We can look at the posture of the entire body from different views such as lateral, posterior, anterior, sagittal and transversal.
Then we can break down each body part- head and cervical alignments, shoulder levels and rotations, spinal curves, hip levels and rotations, knee and ankle rotations, down to each digital alignment in the hands and feet. Different types of poor postures include forward head posture, hyperkyphosis, lordosis, scoliosis, anteversion/retroversion of the hips, hyperextension of the knees and deviated ankles.
How to correct poor posture
With all the different types of cues to think about, having a good posture can be overwhelming. Luckily we can correct poor posture through specific stretches and exercises and if practiced on a daily basis will help keep your posture in check. The foundation of posture is in the pelvis, a strong pelvic floor will allow for a strong and elongated spine.
One of my favourite exercises for the pelvic floor is Bridge pose. Bridge pose can be done as repetitions squeezing the glutes up and down. It can also be held actively for up to 10 breaths or it can be done passively by placing a yoga block or foam roller under the sacrum. Once the hips are aligned and the glutes have been activated we can move up the spine. Turning over into a table top position, perform a few repetitions with breath of Cat/Cow pose, warming up the spine and shoulders. Finally, we can open the chest and flatten that rounded upper back back by creating an extension in the spine. Stand up, reach back and clasp your hands together (see if your palms can touch, if not just start with where you can reach), maintain a slight bend in the knees and retroversion in the hips. Take a few deep breaths filling the lungs up with air and opening the front of the body which is habitually closed in. At this point the cervicals can retract posteriorly and elongate, which is a great time to lift the head as if a string is pulling you up to the sky!
This small routine of breath and exercises practiced daily is just one of many combinations that can be used to reinstate proper alignment. It is enough to address the whole body and ease restrictions caused by our day, our attitudes and habits.
For exercises on how to correct your posture, visit The Body Blog's Fitness board on Pinterest!
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