Many of us have no idea what our posture looks like. As far as our brains and nervous systems go, everything can seem normal. There are however, so many causes of poor posture and sub-optimal movement patterns. Here are a few of them:
- Repetitive positions or movements (causing asymmetries in soft tissue) - Skeletal alignment and individual anthropometric capacity (size & shapes of bones)
- Compensation patterns
- Emotional stress / self image / mental health
- Genetics and cultural patterns.
The good news is that most of these poor postural habits can be fixed with awareness and conscious motor control patterning. Your posture and alignment will control and influence your nervous system, which as we know, helps control breathing patterns and movement, ultimately affecting your level of performance. We’re seeing an ongoing trend at Apeiron Integrated Performance Clinic with clients who present to us with a previous exercise history but are now experiencing pain. These clients have been building strength on top of dysfunction, making the primary reason as to why they experience pain worse, rather than correcting it. You must find the primary, not the secondary reason as to why you experience pain and discomfort in a specific area. The primary reason can often be a postural related issue. Always ask why: why is your thoracic spine tight? Why are the hip flexors so tight? etc.
Our posture changes throughout the day - nothing is ever static. It changes based on how much we sleep, whether we made it to the gym or did a yoga class, if we are anxious, fighting with loved ones or even after experiencing our first kiss.
We are what we repeatedly do. So here are a few tips you can use to assess your own posture.
Get someone to take a picture of you from the side, front and back standing in a relaxed posture. Wear minimal clothing, if possible.
Draw a line using an app or just eyeball it. The line should start in between the two feet and run right through the middle of the pelvis, spine, sternum and nose.
With the side view, draw a line from the lump on the outside of the ankle (lateral malleolus), right through the knee, hip, shoulder and ear. All these segments should be close to in line with each other.
If you are out of alignment considerably, see if you can shift your body into a position in which all the segments listed above move back into alignment with each other.
Tip: you may need to soften your knees slightly and feel the weight shift to your hips.
Once you can re-align yourself, check it with another photo. Once you have mastered this, try to always reset your posture before sitting down at work for the next 8 hours, otherwise you might find yourself becoming stiff and sore at the end of the day.
It’s very possible that an ongoing issue with a neck, shoulder or ankle is not related to that specific joint/area entirely. There could be a postural adaptation or compensation pattern causing stress to that joint or the tissue surrounding it. No matter how much work you put into fixing that specific problem (strength/mobility/stretching/rest) it will remain relatively unchanged until the postural adaptation is corrected. If you don’t fix the primary issue, it’s unlikely you will truly get on top of that pain or discomfort. If you would like your posture assessed, or if you have pain and discomfort, please don’t hesitate to contact Jake at Apeiron Integrated Performance Clinic.