Do you want to feel more comfortable in your own skin and be more confident so you can truly express the person you want to be?
Improving your posture can be a catalyst to transform yourself.
When you improve your posture you not only affect the way you look but you affect your whole physiology, meaning you will literally change who you are.
You will change the way you breathe, the way you digest and eliminate food giving you the energy to be the person you want to be.
I know this to be true because I have experienced it myself.
I know what it feels like to want to express you but not have the confidence to do so. Through my movement practice I have improved my posture and the way I move, this has given me the confidence to be the person I want to be and live the life I want.
The key to improving your posture is by taking a holistic approach, doing corrective exercises a couple of times a week generally won’t get the job done.
It’s our whole lifestyle that needs to be addressed, it’s the way we think, the way we feel, the way we eat, the way we train, the way we breath and even the way we stand & sit on a day to day basis that ultimately shapes our body.
Our emotional health and health of our organs plays a huge role in shaping our body hence why a holistic approach is the key to improving your posture, movement is only one piece to the puzzle.
EMOTIONAL & MENTAL STATE
The way we think can further facilitate poor posture as can poor posture further facilitate our emotional and mental state. Posture can affect respiratory, circulatory and digestive systems as certain nerves can be impinged or impaired due to poor alignment.
This affects how we think and feel in general. Someone who is confident and/or has a positive state of mind generally will have better posture expressing their confidence through an open chest (thoracic extension) Arnnie to the right is a perfect example of someone who expresses confidence through his body. Whereas someone who is more introverted and negative will usually have a hollowing of the chest causing the hunchback effect due to certain muscles being hindered because of their emotional state.
For example someone who has trouble breathing deep will hold a lot of tension in the chest and stomach. This tension will cause organs not to function optimally and muscles on the same nerve pathways as the impaired organ will also be weakened further facilitating the hunched over posture.
The significance of this is that you can change your emotional state by improving your posture. If you want to become more positive and confident you need to express that through your body. Like I mentioned earlier the chances of you succeeding will be greatly improved if you take a holistic approach.
For instance doing corrective exercises is a good start but taking care of other areas of your life like cleaning up your diet and getting good sleep will help you reduce inflammation in the body, your organs will function better and the muscles surrounding the organs will work better.
LOOK AFTER YOUR ORGANS
A perfect example of this is when the stomach is inflamed it will send signals to the muscles surrounding the stomach like the transerves admoninmis TVA, (also refered to as natures waist belt) the muscle will be inhibited due to the inflammation in the stomach.
The function of the TVA is essential for posture and stability of the spine. Cleaning up our diet will reduce inflammation in the stomach allowing the TVA (natures waist belt) to function correctly.
A combination of activation work like stomach vacuums and deep breathing exercises will generally need to be used to get the muscle firing again.
If you have a poor diet and breath shallow generally the TVA and all your deep inner core muscles will be inhibited and your outer core will be taking the load, a perfect recipe for disk issues.
When we take a holistic approach to improving our posture the chances of you actually making long lasting changes increases exponentially.
CONSIDER YOUR ENVIRONMENT
The truth is that life beats us up and our struggle takes its toll both physically and mentally and our body adapts to the external stimuli that we are exposed to. Meaning that it is our environment that shapes our body and who we are.
This is both a blessing and a curse depending on how you live; knowing that it’s not genetic and understanding that it is our lifestyle empowers us to make better decisions on a daily basis. Knowledge is power. On the other hand if you live poorly, your body will pay the price.
We all know that having good posture is important but most generally don’t really understand why. Knowing why and truly understanding it will motivate you on a much deeper level to put the work in, I know it did for me.
Generally poor posture is the result of an imbalance between our flexor and extensor chain of muscles. The diagram to the right should help clarify what I’m on about but the muscles on the front of our body enable us to flex and the muscles on the rear of body enable us to extend.
When there is an imbalance between these two systems it comes at a large cost, it affects us energetically, causes circulatory disruptions, soft tissue dysfunction and degenerative orthopedic disorders like arthritis and spinal disk injuries.
So if you have back, knee, shoulder and elbow issues more than likely they can be traced back to your postural dysfunction.
Our posture should look something like the guy in the middle below, our ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle bone should all be in a straight line. This is not a position we should have to hold ourselves in it should be a natural resting state.
However generally what we see are a few different varieties of postures that form.
That neutral spine alignment (the guy in the middle) is rare these days what we generally see is the head shifts forward and the upper back rounds. As the head shifts forward the body is intelligent enough to understand that the eyes and inner ear mechanics need to be kept level with the horizon for reasons of balance, otherwise we would be falling all over the place. The hips will either shift forward and anteriorly tilt creating excessive curvature in the low back or the pelvis will tuck under forming a flat back increasing the chances of disk bulges.
Poor posture results from a combination of tight and weak muscles commonly referred to as muscular imbalances. It’s these imbalances that cause a whole range of bodily dysfunctions mentioned earlier.
The significance of this over time for our health is huge. When you have a situation where tight muscles are pulling your structure forward, there are antagonistic muscles that are also being lengthened and become inhibited and weak.
When these weaker muscles are being pulled by the tighter muscles it creates tension as they contract to try and hold us up against gravity. The slightest increase in tension can restrict blood flow to these muscles by 50-75%.
It’s these muscles that rely on the blood flow for oxygen, nourishment and waste removal, the lack of blood is what leads to tissue disjunction like trigger points and muscles gluing together causing a whole range of issues from headaches to chronic pain.
REASONS TO IMPROVE YOUR POSTURE
So let’s break this down as simply as possible below I will list some of the most obvious reasons why you should improve your posture:
- Aesthetic Reasons; having a tall neutral posture is much more pleasing to the eye than a hunched over posture
- Efficiency; better movement, joint stability and control
- Energy; poor posture puts stress on the body and creates tension leaking energy.
- Health; breathing & organ function
- Emotional Health & mental state,
- Pain and injury free; a lot of chronic pain and injuries are related to postural dysfunction.
A lot of my motivation for looking after my body at this present moment and improving my posture comes from the fact that I want to age graciousfully and be able to move freely well into my old age, if I’m fortunate enough to live that long.
I don’t want to be the old person you walk past hunched over struggling to walk with the aid of a cane 30 years from now. We may get away with it now but eventually it will catch up to all of us.
Stay tuned more articles to come with some common muscular imbalances and how to go about correcting them.
Please contact me at [email protected] if you would like some guidance.