As soon as I speak of posture, people want to sit up straight. Unfortunately this does not last more than a moment. Poor posture is hitting our society like a plague. This is leading to many conditions such as neck and back pain, headaches, poor breathing patterns, RSI, rotator cuff tears, hip replacement, haemorrhoids, and varicose veins just to name a few. So what is good posture? Good posture is the ability to sustain our body mass where it is evenly distributed and balanced in sitting standing and movement. This is the optimal mechanical position of the spine and joints. Our body works on a tensegrity model (tension integrity), just like the golden gate bridge – where equal tension should occur in opposing positions to keep our joints functioning well. This muscle balance has to occur around every joint. I commonly get asked “why do we get poor posture?” It is hard to pin point exactly as we are all so different, but I see it starting in children very young. We are not taught anywhere where our body should be in space. So we adopt poor patterns from our parents, teachers, and coaches, anyone around as we grow up. We sit at desks and carry heavy bags and play sports that are one way dominant, eg: tennis, golf, soccer etc! So over the years of holding our bodies in these patterns we develop muscle imbalance, leading to niggles and pain in our bodies. When correcting posture we must look at the big picture, addressing all the muscular imbalance and the nervous system with new pathways and movement patterns – not just one joint ie: shoulder. The longer we have operating in a poor position the more stuck we can become – “a stitch in time saves nine”. Training the postural system is very different work than what you will do at the local gym. It is extremely important to start with a Postural and Orthopedic assessment to assess the body. This determines what specific exercise you will need to bring you body back to a strong, functional and integrated unit. If you don’t assess you guess!It is really important to know that when you have poor posture you will need an imbalanced program to create balance! You cannot expect to do even or balanced exercise and expect to change. This is something that I see everywhere I look. Through an appropriate skilled exercise program made up of stretch, mobility, stability and strength you can get better with age and enjoy life to come. This is the long-term approach of structural repair. The more athletic you are the more important it is to have your body balanced and intrinsically (internal muscle system) strong. People imagine that just because you are fit for a sport that you will have good posture – this is not so and many of our athletes are in pain. An example of this is the faster you drive a car the more finely tuned it should be, you would not want the diff to be bent and the wheels wobbly. Athletes often get more injuries that the sedentary just because they are moving their bodies so much more and because of the one sidedness of their particular sport. It is intrinsic postural stability and functional strength that is needed to keep athletes from reoccurring injury. Our bodies are our vehicle for life, correcting imbalance now saves us a lot of trouble later. Don’t wait till you break. So many times I hear the story of a client who just bent over to pick something up and blew a disc in their back or some other injury. This is just a straw that broke the camels back and the body has been in poor position for a long time– correct your posture now – don’t wait till you break!
Posture – More Than Just Standing Straight
Michelle Owen is New Zealand’s most knowledgeable structural and postural health expert. She is highly trained in identifying and correcting dysfunctions in your body that may be causing pain, injury, or reduced physical performance. Michelle has refined a highly specialised approach to postural correction that blends extensive skills as a C.H.E.K Practitioner, corrective high-performance exercise kinesiologist, postural specialist, and strength coach. This methodology incorporates ELDOA and myofascial stretching, global postural stretching, functional range conditioning, kin stretch, and soma training. With this approach, she has helped hundreds of people find freedom in their body and relief from pain.