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The Value of Movement: Posture


Article Posted by Blaine Brignell, June 5th, 2013




Dealing with gravity: what is posture?


Think of movement. What comes to mind? Perhaps impressive feats or personal experience; abilities that are remarkable, impressive, or memorable in some way are sure to be first. Posture, or the position of the body in space, may not even be considered by many to be an expression of movement. Posture is the way we deal with the constant force of gravity, no matter the activity we are engaged in; a fighter’s relaxed and protective stance is posture in the same way that a power lifter’s taut, rigid stance is posture; they are both dealing techniques for dealing with gravity. For the purposes of this article though, we will be discussing “neutral” and the importance of its maintenance for general health, movement, and strength.

Let’s define “neutral”:

University of Connecticut http://www.oehc.uchc.edu/ergo_neutralposture.asp


The adaptive body: using your posture to improve alignment and strength.


As we know, the body will adapt to regular stresses. Being that gravity is the most constant force we are obligated to deal with, the way we hold ourselves will have a profound long-term impact. If we stand, sit, and move in “neutral” posture, the body will develop strength and endurance in this position. The inverse is also true: if we hold ourselves in poor alignment, the uneven distribution of weight will affect our soft tissue structures (and therefore their development) unevenly. If you are unfamiliar, this repetitive uneven use will generally result in or predispose the body to “overuse injury,” defined by a medical reference as:


“Overuse injuries, otherwise known as cumulative trauma disorders, are described as tissue damage that results from repetitive demand over the course of time. The term refers to a vast array of diagnoses, including occupational, recreational, and habitual activities.”


… While also affecting movement and breathing quality (the relationship between breathing and posture is discussed in another article, _____) in the present.


So what do I practice?


The goal of your posture should be to balance around a “neutral” position where muscles and connective tissues are relaxed and aligned for efficient movement. You’ll often hear athletes and coaches preach, “the magic is in the movement;” the same is true for posture, only practice can create improvement.





Picture an African woman carrying a basket atop her head. Here’s a picture if you’re not feeling particularly creative:

Now visualize the line down the midline of her spine; we can see that her body is oriented symmetrically along the line, even though she is in movement. As humans, we are very rarely completely motionless, especially while on our feet; we are constantly in a state of balancing, never exactly balanced. Our posture must therefore be fluid and relaxed, allowing for efficient movement (sounds awfully like attributes associated with “neutral”).





Make it happen


With that in mind, practice the following:


First, visualize the pelvis as a bowl, and “hold water” in the bowl (note how in the below photograph, with the line being the lip of the bowl, both postures would “spill” water. Holding water is between the two positions.

Next, while “holding water”, stand with your butt and shoulders against the wall, and push the base of your head towards the wall as well. You’ll notice that as you do this, your middle and lower back will have a tendency to bow away from the wall; keep “holding water” to minimize this.


Now step away, stall tall like the African woman, and walk. The feeling is that the hips, shoulders and head are all aligned and that the spine is long. Don’t forget to swing your arms!



Walk the walk


Once you feel relaxed and confident, and can maintain a neutral “pelvic bowl,” practice by walking with a book on your head. As you practice walking you will notice that it becomes easier to swing the arms and move with less rigidity.

Sitting is just the same, but with the legs out of the equation: head over shoulders over hips, and make sure the “pelvic bowl” isn’t spilling any water.

Now you’ve got to practice. This isn’t something you do at the gym, it’s a daily awareness and constant practice: sitting, standing, walking, and everything in between.




Blaine Brignell



(850) 362-8515

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