A great posture reflects the image of success and confidence. But that is not all. Having a correctly aligned posture is essential for maintaining optimum energy levels, ensuring muscles function efficiently, and preventing lower-back pain which is often the consequence of prolonged structural imbalances.
Many physical therapists say good postural alignment is the best-kept secret of new fitness movements. The good news is you can start the realignment process now, whatever your age.
How do we become mis-aligned?
The most obvious causes are bad falls and accidents, but more often bad posture results from environmental factors and incorrect bio-mechanical habits, such as carrying heavy bags on one shoulder. Sitting and slouching in front of the TV and poking our heads forward, goose-style, at computer screens doesn’t do our posture any good, nor does carrying excessive weight. Muscular imbalances, such as the thighs being over-trained in comparison with the opposing hamstring muscles, are also a contributing factor.
When you look in the mirror, what should you see?
– Your shoulders, hips and knees are at an equal height from the floor.
– From the side view, you should have four natural curves in your spine.
– Your head sits straight, no tilts or rotation.
– Vertebrae run straight down the centre of your back.
Variations from this postural ideal tell us where to look for tensions and weakness. When we, at Stretch, perform a postural assessment on a client, we draw a map of all the structural mis-alignments and can tell what needs to be stretched and which muscles should be strengthened. If the head is jutting 7 cm forward of he cervical spine, the neck flexors will take on three times the weight of the head, restricting neck movement in all planes. After ironing out all the contracted and tense musculature, the client is more able to let go into his/her ideal posture rather than having to physically hold on to achieve it. The goal is the elongation of the tissues without any effort.
It only takes 15% of our natural strength to maintain posture and achieve an even distribution of force of gravity throughout out body. Just as an architect focuses on balance, weight distribution and gravity to prevent structural weakness when designing a building, so too should we learn to move with the correct posture and work with gravity to maximize structural support.
The aim for all of us, young and old, is to enhance movement and mobility, unwind and unlock the years of accumulative tension and re-energise our bodies in readiness for all the new physical challenges ahead
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