In the fitness industry, posture has become a buzz word in recent years. 'Good posture' can hugely improve your performance, eliminate any back, hip or shoulder joint pain, often makes you look slimmer and can even improve your emotional well being. However, the ramifications of poor alignment, the constant stress or Physiological Load (all day, everyday) it places upon the body and the importance and methods of correcting posture are often misunderstood.
"Posture Is the position from which all movement begins and ends." Paul Chek
"The position from which the musculoskeletal system functions most efficiently" M Feldenkrais
Static posture may be defined as "...the position of the body at rest, sitting, standing or lying" (P Chek). In general, if you have poor posture before you move, you are more likely to have poor posture whilst moving.
Dynamic posture may be defined as "the ability to maintain an optimal instantaneous axis of rotation in any combination of movement planes at any time in space" (P Chek) As a simple analogy, you can think of your spine as an axle (like a crankshaft) and your arm or leg as a means by which motion at the axis is expressed (the crank itself). If your spinal axis is faulty and expresses the exaggerated curvatures that go hand in hand with poor posture, your capacity to rotate efficiently will be significantly reduced. Think how this could affect your swing in golf for example - A well aligned spine allows for efficient movement thus less wear & tear (Physiological Load)
Optimal posture is maintained when muscles surrounding a joint are in balance. Good 'muscle balance' simply means that the muscles are at their optimal or normal length and tension. A muscle imbalance occurs when a muscle on one side of a joint becomes tight whilst its opposing muscle (antagonist) becomes long and potentially weak. This can happen for any number of reasons but usually muscles get tight and shorten as a result of over-activation due to overuse.
For example, sitting at a desk with poor posture for a number of years can cause a shortening of certain muscles and a lengthening of others. This can cause a joint to lose its optimal axis of rotation, leading to excessive wear and tear on the joint and its surrounding tissues and consequently increased likelihood of injury during sport.
The body is like a bicycle wheel. The spokes are like the core muscles and the rim is the spine. Imbalances in the core muscles around the spine lead to abnormal stress on the spine. If the wheel is out of alignment, you need to tighten the loose spokes and loosen the tight ones. The same is true with the body. You need to tighten (strengthen) the loose muscles and loosen (stretch) the tight muscles.
In conclusion, good posture allows optimal distribution of loads through the musculo-skeletal system. Poor posture leads to increased wear and tear, less efficient movement patterns and pain. Eventually this results in a shortening of athletic, occupational or recreational careers. Posture must be evaluated and corrective measures taken to restore optimal alignment (particularly of the spine).
Stretch your tight muscles and strengthen the weak ones. Everyday !
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