Is your day filled with mysterious aches and pains? Do you feel that everything’s a push? Are you living your life on auto-pilot? Welcome to the “always on, always going” world we live in. Work and family keep us busy 24/7, and frankly, most of us don’t know where to start to get ourselves better. The usual response? Push through it. Don’t tough it out though. Chronic pain is a sign that something is off. Use that warning as motivation to change the way you move. It is as simple as your posture, the way you move, stand, and sit. Don’t make it more complicated than that.
What is posture really?
True postural alignment is the basis of pain-free and graceful movement. Each body’s alignment is different, but there are universal constants to good posture. For example, each of us has five visible up and down joints: ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, and “ears”. These joints should all line up or be close enough to call it safe. Most of us are lucky if two of the joints line up. That needs to change. If your postural alignment is off, your movement patterns will cause your body to suffer. Discomfort follows altered movement patterns. Pain will soon be an unwelcome constant. You will have to push through every activity, even ones you love.
Can exercise help?
The solution is easier and simpler than going to the gym twice a week, taking up running, swimming, yoga, Pilates, spinning, Zumba, or any other group or individual exercise activity in your area. Not one of these activities will take away the pain or your general feeling of slogging through the day. They are good escapes, but these programs can’t do the job of getting you better on their own. Unless your posture is where it should be, each of these activities will make your pain worse and increase your daily difficulties. You must fix your posture.
Exercise by itself, like going to the gym for aerobics or muscle strength, won’t fix your posture. It will only reinforce any structural misalignments that you have. If you have a forward head and rounded shoulders, running on a treadmill will hurt your neck and your low back. Without a cervical curve, the lumbar curve flattens. When the spine is without those curves, the pounding effect of your feet hitting the treadmill goes from 2.5 times your body weight to well over 4.5 times. Should you now move to the weight rack and go for the Kettlebells? No. Please don’t.
But I thought going to the Gym was good for me?
Unless you straighten out your rounded shoulders and forward head, any lifting will just reinforce the misalignments you already have. What do you think is going to happen to your shoulders, neck, and low back when you start throwing 20+ pounds around overhead? Overhead work is hard and with joints out of line, it’s going to hurt.
Weight work demands mobility and good posture. Unless your posture is good, you should not do this. Your trainer is telling you that you can, but as well-meaning as he or she is, she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know. And what she doesn’t know is alignment. Most trainers think it’s about getting your muscles to lift the weight. However, that should not be the goal. The goal should be to focus on your personal control of the movement. Attention should be on getting your shoulders back to the design. Once that’s done, lifting and control are easy to maintain. But first, you need to fix your posture.
Over 90% of the brain’s activity is used to balance your body against gravity. Balance is managed by the autonomic nervous system and this in–the-background system runs best when the body’s joints are in line and able to work in the right plane. The more mechanically distorted a person is, the more work the body has to do to adjust and merely to stay upright. This means that there is less energy available for health, metabolism, and thought. Poor posture slows everything down and alters the natural workings of the body. Pain is one result of that distortion.
How do I fix it?
Let’s think about how you can change your life by changing how you sit, stand, and move. With a few quick fixes, you can take charge of your posture, change it, and energize your life. Adopt good posture and you will experience less tension in the neck and shoulders. A common type of headache (cervicogenic) that starts from the base of the skull has a substantially lower chance of happening. Rounded shoulders and a forward head can bring on these headaches.
Breathe easily and fully with an open chest and a diaphragm and lungs that truly work. With tucked under ribs, a direct result of rounded shoulders and a forward head, your chest can’t lift, so normal breathing is compromised. Every simple movement becomes labored.
Reduce your risk of low back pain and herniated discs. By walking around and sitting with a C-curve, it’s a guarantee that you will have back pain. Over 80% of Americans suffer back pain during some part of their day, but you don’t have to join them.
Shoulder pain is preventable. Rotator Cuff tears and Frozen Shoulders are unnecessary, avoidable, or never should happen, no matter what job you have or what weekend sport you play. Strengthen your upper back and shoulders, stop sitting with a slouch, eliminate stooping over, and don’t walk with your feet turned out.
Where do I start?
- Static Back is your beginning exercise and go to position on the floor. Do it everyday forever, but start with everyday for two weeks. Spend 20 minutes lying on your back, no cellphone, no TV, just letting your body’s muscles and joints unwind. All you need is a little patience, a chair, and the floor, equipment all of us have. Put a paperback under your head to level it out and take pressure off your neck.
- Static Back Pullovers is a simple back-and-forth arm and shoulder exercise that will open your rounded chest and free your neck and shoulders. It may add an inch to your height but it will certainly give you better breathing plus an arm and shoulder range of motion that you haven’t had in years.
- Hip Crossover wrings out the rotation in your hips and gets your upper and lower body to work together, not fighting each other with every step.
- Upper Spinal Floor Twist will remove the forward or backward rotation in your torso, neck, and shoulders, allowing your ribs and chest to relax, open up, and move with your lower body.
- Bent Knee Pillow Squeezes will build inner leg strength and get your legs and feet to move straight ahead, not out to the side with no power.
- Pelvic Tilts is an exercise that teaches your pelvis to move through flexion and extension, not just remain stuck in one position.
It’s that easy?
That’s it. This simple series of daily exercises will fix your posture in a few weeks. Will you then be perfect? Will everything then work as it did when you were young? No, but you are on your way to moving gracefully and without pain and to living up to your body’s full potential.
For a copy of these exercises, each with pictures and clear directions, please leave your name and email on the Contact form below. We’ll send out a program for you to follow. Rid yourself of nagging pain, look better, and move better. It is up to you.
Would you like to have a professional evaluation before you start? Just give us a call or go to the website and book yourself in for an Initial Evaluation. It will take less than an hour of your time, but it is worth its weight in gold.
Take the step. Quick Fix your posture. You will be amazed at how simple and easy it is. Fixing your posture, getting your body in alignment, can be the answer to reducing injury and pain.