(Did you just sit up a little straighter? Yeah, everyone does that.)
How you sit, stand, move directly affects your potential for good health and functional fitness. Every system, muscle, cell, and organ in your body requires “x” amount of space to function optimally. When that space is reduced by slouchy posture, cramped by sitting all day, or compromised by repetitive stress patterns then those systems, muscles, cells, and organs can’t function properly. So yes, sitting up straighter, or standing taller are both great places to start.
Muscular System - Muscle length and relative balance is compromised resulting in tension, chronic pain, and/or injuries.
Respiratory System - When the upper body rounds (think “mom shoulders” or working on your laptop) the amount of oxygen your lungs can take in is reduced because the lungs don’t have as much space to expand.
Digestive & Urinary Tracts - Less space for your stomach or your intestines to operate can wreak havoc on your overall digestion and bladder function.
Adrenal & Reproductive Hormones - There are studies showing a correlation between hormonal imbalances and poor posture that lead to emotional issues, increased stress, and mood disturbances.
How did I get like this?
Posture is like a visual recording of your life's ups and downs. Your highs and lows, physically and emotionally, are catalogued in your tissues, recorded by your nervous system, and adjusted day in and day out. Our body gets really good at whatever we ask it to do the most, so in addition to injuries or traumas, our daily habits mold our overall posture into what we see today. Each day might be a little different depending on what you're doing. Old injuries that didn't heal or weren't properly rehabbed may have you chronically limping or favoring one side over the other. Pregnancy shifts your posture as the center of gravity changes. Working at a desk for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, for however many months or years interrupts entire muscle chains. Serious athletes, factory workers, new moms, and anyone else that performs the same movement over and over, are susceptible to repetitive stress injuries. In the short term, a six hour flight or a week on the couch nursing the flu can also impact your day-to-day alignment. You're kind of like an onion... yeah I know I'm not the first to use that metaphor. But really, there are a lot of layers that have combined to get you where you are today.
Okay so now what?
Well, now you begin the process of building your body up rather than breaking it down. First suggestion is to take some pictures of yourself - front, sides, and back view. If possible, get in front of a grid or use a grid overlay (easy to find online). Visual feedback can be a powerful tool. Optimal alignment (side view) is when your ankle, knee, hip, shoulder, and ear all line up. If any of those landmarks are not stacked properly, it would be considered a postural misalignment. Once you know your postural tendencies, you can begin taking steps to improve it! Finding a corrective exercise or postural alignment specialist is your best bet. Ideally whoever you work with will you give you homework because, let's be real, one hour a week could never outweigh the other 167 hours you spend sitting, standing, playing, and sleeping. Both yoga and pilates can be helpful towards improving posture, but remember that no group class is designed to address an individual's needs (group classes are designed to be good for "most bodies"). I suggest working one-on-one with a specialist to learn what your body needs and begin working towards your best alignment. From there, you'll be able to take that information and get the most out of any group class by knowing how to modify for your needs.
You only get one.
Becoming aware of your postural tendencies is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself. While the results above are of an actual client of mine, within the same session, it does not mean everything was "fixed". The approach I take with postural therapy is unique and can have some instant results BUT for those results to last long term, you need patience, dedication and commitment. Whatever shape your body is in now has likely had months or years to settle in. I'm not going to promise a quick fix, but I will promise that it is never too late to begin this work. I will also promise that with some focused attention and educated assistance, you will develop a whole new relationship with your body and a much greater appreciation for this beautiful one-of-a-kind space you live in.
Call or Email today to schedule a FREE 30 MINUTE CONSULT to get a better sense of how this can help you!
3679 Voltaire Street, Suite D
San Diego, CA 92106