Good posture is not only essential to our health and wellbeing, but it also reduces the impact gravity has on our body and changes how we feel about ourselves. Standing tall or sitting up straight can not only give a good impression to our outer world, but it can help our self-esteem and self-belief, so we radiate confidence and positive energy in all we do.
So, what is a good posture? It is a form of fitness in which the muscles of the body support the skeleton in an alignment that is stable, efficient and balances the body equally in both movement and stillness. It is also about maintaining the natural curves of the spine so your body can function as nature intended. There are 3 natural curves of the spine which need to be aligned so your weight is evenly distributed over both feet. When your bones and joints are in the right position, it not only reduces the risk of injury and wear and tear, but the muscles work more efficiently. You have improved respiratory efficiency so you can breathe more freely, your digestion functions optimally and your circulation and central nervous systems are kept healthy and working as expected.
So when you train your body to maintain good posture, you create more body awareness, and connecting into your own physicality can have a positive impact on how you manage stress, tension or even pain. You will also benefit from increased energy levels, enjoy better sleep and have more confidence and general ease within. There are many factors which affect our posture such as injury, illness, genetics, biomechanics, back pain or spinal dysfunction, joint degeneration, sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movements, carrying heavyweights, use of technology, sleeping position, driving position and emotional factors like stress, anxiety and mental attitude to name but a few. Any one of these factors can change how we feel about our body’s ability to do all the things we want to be able to do and finding what works for us is not always easy.
Good Posture or Neutral Spine (as it is often referred to) is when the muscles around the spine are balanced and supporting the body equally. The ‘ideal’ alignment is the ear, shoulder, hip, knee and ankle aligned vertically from the side. However, every individual has an ‘ideal’ which works for them. It is therefore important that any form of exercise or postural improvement training should be undertaken in a tailored way to suit your specific requirements.
There are many things we can all try on daily basis:
1) Don’t slouch - This adds stress to the spine, spinal nerves, and puts strain on the bones, muscles and joints. It also compresses your organs together making it harder to breathe and more difficult for your digestion to work properly
2) Stand tall and relax your shoulders - Keeping the weight even through both feet, straighten up as if you are lifting your spine up out of your pelvis sending the crown of your head to the sky
3) Take a break from technology - If you work behind a desk, try to make your work- space as ergonomically friendly as possible. Stand up and walk around for a few minutes every ½ hour or so. Leave your phone on the desk and have a good stretch.
4) Beware of your smartphone - If you are on your phone all day, try and avoid balancing the phone between your shoulder and your ear, while doing other things. Try lifting the phone up and moving your eyes and not your head when texting. Do a few stretches to release any tension in your neck.
5) Sit more upright when driving- Reclining your seat during a long drive is not great for your posture. If you feel you would benefit from some support in your lumbar spine, place a rolled-up towel behind you and try and keep your head back towards the headrest to prevent chin poking.
6) Ladies, consider your footwear! High heels thrust the base of your spine forward which can over arch your back and put weight on your knees, so choose your daily footwear wisely.
7) Sleeping position - Choose a firm mattress which helps hold your spine in a natural shape. Review your pillow choice based on whether you are side sleeper or a back sleeper. Side sleepers may benefit from having a pillow between their knees to take the pressure off the pelvis and spine.
8) Exercise - You need strong muscles to support your spine. A well-designed workout plan will keep your body and spine in good shape, which is important. Try Pilates or Tai chi.
9) Check for nagging health issues - You know your body, so if something does not feel right, take advice. You may need to see a medical practitioner, a complimentary therapist or a Pilates Teacher/Exercise professional. Try not to leave things too long before seeking help.
Keeping ourselves strong, fit and healthy is fundamental to both our physical and mental wellbeing, and it is of the utmost importance to keep the body moving, for which it is designed for.
Pilates is a method of exercise designed to help you move more freely through your daily activities. It uses core strength to develop functional and sustainable movement patterns throughout the body. Optimal benefits gained through consistent Pilates practice - balancing strength with mobility and flexibility are:
· Improved core engagement
· Improves posture
· Enhances body awareness
· Improves flexibility and mobility
· Improves balance
· Increases energy
· Improved coordination
· Total body strengthening
· Improved control and precision
Sports Massage Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage and Myofascial Release are all complimentary to both physical and mental wellbeing, and there is evidence that regular maintenance massage sessions work very well in conjunction with regular Pilates training. These modalities are more of a hand-on therapy as opposed to a treat of a relaxing massage, as the therapist can use many different techniques to achieve pain relief from muscle tension, overuse or soft tissue injury.
Sports and Deep Tissue Massage treatments help to improve flexibility and range of movement around the joints, as well as the break down of scar tissue and speeding up the healing of muscle strains by increasing blood flow to the area.
Myofascial Release is another form of treatment; however, it is very different to the deep tissue option, as it is performed in a slow and precise way to release the restrictive tissue. It involves applying gentle pressure into connective tissue and fascia, which helps to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. As our nervous system controls emotions, this therapy helps to enhance feelings of calm, so this can be used as a more relaxing technique.
Fascia is the structure of connective tissues that surrounds muscles, blood vessels and nerves, therefore it is highly effective combining Myofascial work with the Sports or Deep Tissue Massage Therapy to achieve the best outcomes.
Pilates, Sports and Deep Tissue Massage, Myofascial Release Therapy