Strength, confidence, assertiveness, weakness, pain, or sadness are all emotions which are projected by your posture. Your posture says a lot about you and your state of mind. It has now been found that your posture can also influence your state of mind. Holding yourself upright, with your chest open and your head up, for just two minutes, increases your testosterone (power hormone) and reduces your cortisol (stress hormone) improving confidence. So what is good posture? We hear so often that to have good posture you need good core strength and stability to hold yourself up straight.? That is only one part of posture. Strong and stable is great when you’re a rigid, immovable pile of rocks. However, we like to move, dance, run and play, so good posture is about providing an adaptable and mobile base of support, which can take on and distribute the strains and forces of every day movement. Good communication networks between the body and the brain is also essential so your body can adapt quickly to change.
We often only consider our posture when we have pain. Then we seek treatment for our sore back and necks. However your posture influences how you move and can contribute to pain in shoulders, knees, feet and arms as well as contribute to headaches. Pain relief treatments can often be quick and effective – well suited to our busy lifestyles. However the effects are usually only short term, and a quick release of your trigger points, or popping tablets for your frequent headaches are generally not fixing the problem causing your pain. In fact they could be making it worse in the long run. Imbalances occur for a reason. We need to understand that reason in order to treat it. Treating your postural restrictions can provide you with a more balanced, adaptable and stronger body with long term pain relief.
Why Rebalance Your Posture?
Realigning postural biomechanics improves performance in sport, everyday activities and work by:
- using less energy to keep you upright, leading to improved vitality
- reduces strain on your muscles preventing long term damage and pain
- strengthens bone structure by distributing the biomechanical loads appropriately
- improves muscle function and strength
- improves joint mobility and flexibility
- leads to a natural flow and ease to your movement
- improves the ability of your nervous system to send signals to your brain which improves co-ordination, sensory processing and learning
- improves breathing technique which increases oxygen intake and stimulates parts of the brain which reduces stress levels.
- increases confidence and reduces stress
If you would like a stronger, more flexible and adaptable posture, then call me today to discuss your needs and goals.
What is Posture?
Posture is an unconscious, dynamic balancing act of the body against gravity. Our bodies like to move and thus are not structured like the rocks pictured left, which are balanced against gravity, but are not movable. Unlike the rock formation, with the small rocks stacked upon the larger rocks, we have small bones in our feet supporting much larger bones higher up the body. In order to stay upright our bones are held together by a connective tissue (fascia) network. Our muscles attach to this fascia network and are continuously making subtle changes in tension to ensure the body stays balanced for function. Posture relies on the bones, fascia, and muscles working with each other, which is highly dependant on the sensory information coming from the body’s nerves and the signals coming from the brain. Your posture is the position your body naturally falls into when you stand, sit or move. Good posture is one where your comfortable in your body, the body parts are aligned for function and you can move freely into and out of position, without you having to think about it. If you have to consciously hold yourself up and push yourself into a ‘straight’ position, then your body will give up and collapse back down as soon as your attention has moved onto something else. Poor posture is one that limits function either by restricting movement or by causing pain.
Why Do We All Have Such Different Postures?
We all have different shaped bodies, with different proportions, and different shaped bone structure. Some people have naturally large curves in their back, some have one leg longer than the other, while others have one hip bone larger than the other, therefore there is no single perfect posture. Your posture has developed and adapted based on what you do on a day to day basis. It is unique to you, to what you do and how you feel. A wonderful and misunderstood aspect of the human body is the ability to change itself according to your needs.The fascia can sense what you do on a day to day basis and modify it’s own structure to suit your activities. It produces extra tissue in areas that requires extra support, or it takes tissue away if you require more mobility. It’s pretty cool! However sometimes our bodies have adapted so well for one position or task that it becomes painful when you try to do something else. Ensuring your posture is adaptable to a variety of tasks is key to reducing pain.
What Influences Your Posture?
A number of things influence your posture. If you sit at a desk for six hours a day, your body will change it’s framework to support that position. Your fascial fibres will increase in size and density or stick together in areas of the body that are frequently ‘tilted’ and challenged by gravity. This provides the structural support to the muscles so they don’t have to work so hard. Increased density of fascia increases stability but at the cost of reducing mobility. Reduced mobility means reduced flexibility and adaptability for other movements. So you may be well supported in sitting, but when you try to stand your body doesn’t want to come out of the sitting posture. This is translated to pain because when you stand you’re straining the tight and shorten fascia. This results in a change in the way you stand in order to avoid the strain and pain. The same thing happens if you repeat similar movements day in and day out as part of your work or sport.
This can also change the sensory information being sent to the brain from the fascia. The theory is that an increase in fascial tissue can effectively squash the nerve endings, which results in either a reduced ability to sense the changes in posture, or an increased irritably of the nerve endings. Reduced sensation results in reduced ability to quickly adapt your posture to various movements, which can make you feel less coordinated. The increased irritability results in pain. All these thing lead to increased risk of injury and further pain.
Aspects That Influence Your Posture
- Your environment: eg. work station set-up
- Your day to day activities – the way you vacuum, wash dishes etc..
- Your sporting movement patterns
- Your mood influences how you hold yourself, for example when we’re sad we tend to drop our shoulders and head forward. If your sad a lot, your posture can adapt to that position.
- Stress increases muscle tension which influences posture and movement.
- Pain changes the way we hold ourself. We tend to protect and tense the tissues around the painful/ injured area affecting the overall balance in the fascia network.
- Skeletal imbalances, one leg longer than the other will influence how you stand.
- Shoes influence how you stand, walk and run.
So How Can We Improve Your Posture?
Generally, posture is more efficient when your body is aligned and with minimal tension. Releasing tight or stuck fascia with manual techniques can increase mobility and reduce pain. Pain can be misleading. The restrictions may be in your leg, which may not cause you pain, but it may create strain and pain in your back. You seek treatment for your back pain, which may provide temporary relief, however until you treat the restriction in your leg, your back pain will return. KMI Structural Integration provides a framework in which we can assess your posture and then systematically work through the areas which are tight and restrictive relieving pain in entire body.
Integrated into KMI treatment is movement re-patterning. New movements and postural positions are suggested using sensory retraining, body awareness and neuro-motor techniques. This encourages the postural changes to be integrated and reinforced on a day to day basis, providing more long term effects.
Learn how to move more, with more variety and awareness in your movement. Tuning into your body and noting the sensations, stiffness and restriction prior to the development of pain can help to avoid future tissue strain and damage. Avoiding static holding positions on a day to day basis and during exercise. If you have to sit for long periods of time or hold static postures due to work, a number of techniques can be taught to prevent strains developing in your body.
Stress can cause increase muscle tension creating restrictions in your posture. Developing an awareness of your stress levels, the triggers for your stress and how this translates into your posture can allow you to tune into and turn down your stress. Techniques can be taught to become aware of your own posture and how your stress influences your posture.
Home maintenance programs are provided to ensure the new movements become integrated into daily habits. Movement classes are also encouraged – yoga, thai chi, and stretching classes provide a good range of movement patterns to lengthen the body and increase mobility.
Good posture should feel natural and comfortable and allow you to achieve your functional potential, regardless of how it looks. Good posture is about feeling at ease and balanced in your body, and being efficient with the use of your muscles.
If you would like to feel more balance and ease in your body come in and have a chat to see if improving your posture can help you.