Bad posture is a plague. There, I said it! We spend an awful lot of time these days on a computer, sitting at a desk, and in the car and somehow these activities have been coupled with poor poster… but it really doesn’t have to be this way.
The human body has an optimal alignment and when the body is in this place we experience greater freedom in our movement and overall we experience less pain. Through the balanced action of body awareness, starting from the foundation of our feet moving all the way up through our knees, hips, shoulders, neck and head we can observe strong alignment and posture.
Our spines are really amazing. They consists of 24 moveable bones and 8-9 fused ones, our vertebrae. Each of these bones are joined and separated by discs that allow slight movement and act as a ligament to hold the vertebrae together. The Spine is responsible for much of our movement and stability, our range of motion and it largely affects our respiration, our emotional expression and perhaps most importantly it houses and protects our center nervous system.. the spine is kind of a big deal!
There are four areas that make up our spines. The cervical spine, thoracic spine, lumbar region and then 2 fused pieces at the bottom of the spine, the sacrum and the coccyx. These areas are also known as the neck, upper-mid back, lower back, and tailbone. Each area of the spine should have a natural, gentle curve and when we are not observing these natural curves this will often results in strain… and eventually pain.
Sitting and standing with poor posture throws all kinds of things out of whack. It effects our weight bearing capabilities, our range of motion, our energy flow, and can also putting huge pressure on our spinal discs, pushing them around. When the discs are pushed to the outer edges of the vertebrae this can cause bulged discs. When discs bulge they become very close to the surface, extremely pressurized, and can push into the spinal cord and against the nerve causing all kinds of pain… no fun at all! I’m not trying to scare you, I’m just saying that to me a misaligned spine is serious business.
The thing about sitting and standing with good posture (or infusing it into your sports or your yoga practice) is that if you have struggled with poor posture then initially proper alignment may feel like a lot of work. Rebuilding those supportive muscles again may seem like a pain, but the thing is that by staying mindful of your posture in all that you do, you may be able to avoid actual pain that is unnecessary in the first place.
So how do we find optimal alignment? I like to do really simple exercises to strengthen my back and core muscles while lying on the floor.
Lie on your back and draw your spine long. Gently pull your shoulder blades onto your back and connect with the ground here, through the back of your head and at the point of your sacrum. You should have a gentle curve under your neck and low back big enough to slide your fingers under. Stay connected through these areas as you start to offer yourself some movement.
Engage the core, try to raise and lower the legs with the knees slightly bent, drawing to about a 45degree angle to the ground and then lowering them again to hover just above the ground. I also enjoy gentle twists with bent knees to stretch and strengthen the muscles of the side body. Sounds simple right?
I promise the benefits of strengthening your deep core muscles (and not just the superficial 6 pack muscles) will really serve you as time goes on. These muscles serve to protect all of your vital organs and promote fast recovery from strain and accidents. All of this will result in supporting your spine and giving you a strong and radiant posture!