13 Oct 2016 What’s Creating Your Posture?
That’s right – creating your posture. You weren’t born with ‘bad’ or ‘good’ posture. Unless we were born with a structural muscular skeletal issue,we would have all enjoyed a beautifully balanced structure. We would have innately understood the need for balance as we learnt to crawl and walk.
And then things start to happen that changed that organisation. These are slow, subtle changes that take place over several years. It takes 18-24 months for tissue to change. We would be unaware of these gradual changes until one day we wake up with either pain somewhere in the body or we look in the mirror and notice our posture is not how we believe it should be.
So what happened? We went to school and sat down for much more time than we were previously used to. We sat on hard chairs and were told off if we fidgeted. We went to college, university or work and continued to do the same. Those of us that enjoyed a variety of sporting or recreational activities in our leisure time would have faired better. Variety is the key. If you only played tennis, for example, you would start to derive patterns in your body for that asymmetrical movement. If school was the last time you did physical exercise, the body is going to feel stiffness and inflexibility. The tissue needs to move. Without it, it dries and thickens. Movement becomes more challenging, the body resistant to it. It’s not irreversible, but it’s just going to take some time.
So tissue morphs, it changes. For example, if I work in an office and the position of the desk and computer screen are to the left of me, my ribcage and shoulders have to slightly rotate to see the screen. If I do this for many years, I’m going to lay down a physical structure that has a left rotation in the ribs. Looking at me, you may say I have a ‘bad’ posture because I no longer look balanced. I may also have a slouch because I spend my time hunched over my desk. Because I’ve been sitting for most of the time, my legs muscles may no longer be integrating with the ground to fully support me, so I hang off my hip joints.
Now we all have imbalances. Our bodies are not symmetrical by design. It is inevitable, to some degree that we will have imbalances. But we can do a lot ourselves to try and restore balance so that we move with comfort and are pain free. Move in multiple directions. Choose spirals. Pilates and yoga are fantastic for this, as a well-balanced class will move you in every plane of movement. Think about your work, your regular daily activities and devise a way to introduce a way to undo that pattern. As in our diet, too much of one thing is going to have consequences. At the very least, do the opposite of what you regularly do. If we take the example above of my left rotated ribcage, I should do some right rotations every day to undo this pattern before it becomes my norm.
Remember that everything – unless it is a physical structural issue – is changeable. The longer it has been in place, the longer it may take. But don’t give up. You had it once as a child – go find it again!