How your posture can help you look, feel and play better.
Although some people are less willing to admit it than others, I believe its human nature to want to be good at anything you do. This is why I can’t imagine anyone turning down the opportunity to quickly and easily improve their personal appearance, their performance and their health. Who wouldn’t want to see positive change in these areas of their lives?
In previous columns I’ve talked about posture, and given instruction on how to assess and improve your own alignment. There’s been keen interest in the Better Posture e-report that I’ve made available, and I’ve read some very satisfying stories from people who’ve already made big changes to their lives through better body alignment. But many of you are likely wondering – Is it really worth focusing on? Will the average person see positive results? Learning and understanding how improved posture can positively affect many aspects of your life is an important step in the process of making positive postural change.
Looking your best is important, and first impressions are critical. Whether you’re applying for a job, going on a date, or chairing an important meeting, people will establish an opinion about you long before you get a chance to impress them with what you have to say. Your body language sends a powerful message about your personality, which can help to open doors, or close them. According to a recent study in the Journal of Applied Psychology, people who are taller even have the opportunity to secure a higher salary. “When it comes to height, every inch counts – in fact, in the workplace, each inch above average may be worth $789 more per year.” Doesn’t it make sense to stand tall and capitalize on your full potential?
I haven’t met a lot of people who like pain. In general it’s a good thing to avoid, because pain is usually an indicator that you’re doing your body some harm. This is especially true of posture-related pain. By the time you feel that ache in the middle of your back from your slouched standing posture, you’ve likely started to get some wear and tear in your spine. Since your body is designed to function best in it’s optimal alignment, changes to this position can increase the stress on your bones and joints. Muscles that are put in a position of constant tension will send pain signals, or begin to spasm.
The concept of performance means different things to different people. For a serious athlete performance means the difference between winning and losing an important game. For a waitress it determines whether they have a productive shift at work. For a grandparent performance can relate to whether or not they enjoy the time they have with their grandchildren by allowing them to keep up and play along. A body that is subject to the physical strain of poor posture simply isn’t going to be able to function at its optimal level. By maintaining ideal alignment you’ll maximize your movement efficiency, reaction time, range of motion, respiration, circulation and more.
By making a direct connection between your alignment and your ability to succeed in everything that you do I hope you’ll see enough reason to take your posture seriously. For help go to www.p2clinic.com and download my Neutral Posture Simplifed PDF.
Body Science – The top 3 most common posture corrections.
Because many of us have developed similar lifestyle patterns and habits, we tend to develop similar postural compensations. After performing thousands of posture assessments, I’ve determined that there are three posture corrections that would benefit almost anyone. These are:
- Activate your transverse abdominals by drawing your bellybutton toward your spine. This will stabilize your low back and pelvic position as you straighten up.
- Use your upper back muscles to stop the slump, lifting your chest toward the ceiling while keeping your shoulders relaxed.
- Draw your head backward and upward slightly on your body, elongating your neck while keeping your eyes level on the horizon.
This list isn’t intended to be a cure-all, but in my experience there are few people who wouldn’t benefit from these three simple corrections. At the very least you’ll be more aware of how you carry yourself.
–Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is a kinesiologist, posture expert, entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, athlete, father, prominent downtown vancouver personal trainer, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community. http://www.williamshealthgroup.com/index.htm
At first glance, the image above looks like a cartoon – something unreal or exaggerated. Unfortunately, forward head carriage has become a reality for many people today due to society’s addiction to seated work and activities. The deformation occurs due to prolonged exposure to seated or unnatural body positions. In the early stages, the individual is largely unaware of damaging changes taking place in their spine because the damage takes time to accumulate. It is not until the head has crept forward an inch or two that individuals start to take notice. At this point, the damage done to the body becomes harder to repair. For this reason, it is important to be self-aware of your posture and to work with someone who is knowledgeable to catch imbalances early and correct the changes.
In a perfectly aligned person, the neck and upper back muscles work to support the 12 pound head. Research suggests that with every one inch of forward head carriage, the spine must support an additional 10 pounds. This means, that for a mere 3 inches of forward head movement, the spine must support 42 pounds of weight against the force of gravity. But, unlike at the gym this is not a 15 rep exercise, the spine and surrounding muscles are constantly working to restrain the 42 pound head from succumbing to gravity. It is this prolonged exposure to misalignment that causes fatigue, pain and injury.
At first, the muscles are able to withstand the challenge, but with exposure times greater than 10 minutes, blood flow is reduced which leads to fatigue and neck pain. With time, this can lead to chronic neck and low back pain, neck related headaches and stress related illnesses. Once strained, the tissue becomes more susceptible to future injury. In addition, the forward head carriage can interfere with the muscles involved in breathing and the gastrointestinal tract, resulting in a decreased vital lung capacity, as well as slowed gastrointestinal function. The forward head carriage can also result in the entire spine being pulled out of alignment causing further complications.
Luckily, health professionals are starting to recognize the importance of good posture and functional movements for whole body health. Posture is becoming a more fundamental part of most training programs, chiropractic visits and massage therapy sessions. With this emphasis on posture first, practitioners are able to correct misalignments and prevent future problems related to poor posture. Corrective exercises and stretches are a great way to start improving your posture. Visit www.williamshealthgroup.com/resource_downloads.html to view a Pole Posture Program and a handout on Better Posture.
–Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is an entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, prominent downtown Vancouver personal trainer, athlete, father, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community.www.williamshealthgroup.com
Tips for healthy alignment. 3 Simple Ways to Avoid Posture Problems
Over the last 10 years, the majority of my posture clients have come to me because they have some sort of problem or painful condition. More recently people are seeking ways of optimizing their posture in order to prevent or avoid complications later in life. It’s great to see them take this proactive approach to their structural health. If I had to share my top 3 tips for preventing future posture problems I would include:
1- Have an assessment of your current alignment – the knowledge you gain will help to reinforce the need for attention to your posture.
2- Pay attention to your daily routine – from computer workstations to the seat in your car, your posture often reflects your habits and activities.
3- Stretch and exercise regularly – keeping your muscles strong and flexible can allow your body to move more naturally, preventing imbalances and restrictions.
–Rob Williams is a Vancouver based business owner in the health and fitness industry. He is an entrepreneur, health and fitness columnist, presenter, inventor, prominent downtown Vancouver personal trainer, athlete, father, coach and mentor to many young athletes in the North Shore community. www.williamshealthgroup.com