Hello friends. It is your friendly, neighbourhood physio here to give you the cold, hard facts about why you are struggling with any of the following:
- Repetitive injury/pain to the same area of the body
- Plateaus in fitness, strength or performance
- Generalized soreness and ashiness that you just chalk-up to "old age"
News Flash: It's your posture.
Now perhaps I've already lost you with my oversimplification, but give me a chance to explain. We tend to think of posture as binary; either "good" or "bad". We also tend to think of it as the position that we sit in. Well let me broaden your awareness.
Think of posture as your foundation. It is the starting line of movement and function. It is your ground-zero. So, when we start in a position that is less than optimal, it is no question that so will our movements, our muscle forces, our joint loading, etc.
Great. So you are saying I am doomed from the get-go. Thanks Meg.
Well, not at all. Instead, I want you to rethink the way you approach the above issues. We tend to jump forward about ten steps and try to focus on "fixing" the painful spots without just observing, connecting and correcting our default positioning.
Let me attempt to clarify with an example.
The picture below is us holding our one-week old twins. They were just barely home from the hospital. At first glance, this is one of my favourite pictures. But now I will pick apart every detail of my shit Mom-posture to make a point.
In this position:
- My pelvis is tucked under me -- which renders my glutes very useless to support me.
- My torso is shifted back to balance the load of the baby (and newly acquired chest) in front -- which puts much more force/pressure through my lower back and takes my core out of the equation.
- My hips are shifted forward to act as a "ledge" for baby to rest on -- which makes me hyperextend my knees
- My chin pokes forward to still be able to see directly in front of me -- which creates muscle tension at the back of my neck and upper shoulders.
- My ribcage is flared out in response to my torso shifted back -- making it almost impossible to breath properly (and thus engage my core).
Need I continue?
The point is that although I had all the reasons to have a compensatory posture (hello, newborn twins) it becomes problematic when our bodies start to adapt into this position as our "default" static posture. When those babies get bigger, or when you try to carry all the groceries into the house in one go (guilty), or you start to get back to high-impact activity - you are stacking the deck (or spine) against you and it leads to all the aches and pains listed above.
Great Meg. What do we do about it?
Well, unfortunately the guy on the left has a much more exemplary posture, so all eyes on him. Better yet, connect with your body. Listen to what it is telling you, feel what it is feeling. Perhaps this sounds a little too ethereal and hokey. BUT, I promise you that most of our postural issues stem from the disconnect we have with our bodies. If someone took your picture right now, as you read this - you would see right away the issues with your positioning. What I challenge you to do is try to feel them instead. Where do you feel pressure in your body? Where do you feel tension? Where do you feel weak? Does your spine feel stacked? Where does your breath go? Feel it, then change it. Sometimes it is just that simple. When you feel better, you feel better.
Ya feel me??