Enhance Your Life. Build Your Posture.
Posture, oh no- here’s another health professional, a Chiropractor no less preaching the importance of posture. We’ve all heard it before. However, I hope to provide a blueprint. An example of how to change, adapt and highlight why posture is so important.
An easy way to think about posture is that it’s a direct reflection of your body’s tone. The tone of your muscles, ligaments, tendons and most importantly your spine and nervous system. This can sing a beautiful song when in harmony with each other.
The body is divided into 3 levels of organisation:
The Passive level includes bones, joints and discs. Active includes the muscles, tendons and ligaments. Finally, the Neural includes the nerves, brain and electricity and it’s the life force that provides the juice and energy to live and thrive.
Posture is nature’s way of expressing the health of all three levels of your body’s organisation. As such, it is nature’s way of expressing health. Furthermore posture is nature’s way of expressing energy and a healthy posture is truly indicative of a healthy human (you).
Posture is dynamic, flowing and should be considered a skill. The wiring of the active, passive and neural levels of the body takes organisation, training and continual fine tuning. The forces of life, gravity stress and strain will constantly erode and wear away even the best, healthiest posture. Similar to swinging a golf club or swimming, it’s a skill that needs to be worked at. Healthy posture is a journey not a destination.
This is part 1 of a two part blog post. This will ideally help you enhance your posture throughout everyday life. Here’s to a happier, healthier and dynamic version of you and it starts right here…
“Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.” Henry Ford
Awareness and Wanting.
Nothing changes until you do. The fact you are looking for a postural solution shows willingness to do the work. It’s a great first step! Becoming aware of how often you are slouching is a great first step. Catching poor posture and reminding yourself to POSTURE UP throughout the day is key to creating change. Apps like Posture Zone allow you to set and program reminders around your personal calendar. It provides a reminder to check in with your posture.
Having a phone that is going to remind you is one thing, but what other life hacks can you add to your life? How else can you POSTURE UP throughout the day?
- Set the rear view mirror in the car high. Do it first thing in the morning so you can only see out the rear window when sitting tall. The trick- when getting back in the car at the end of the day, don’t change the mirror. POSTURE UP instead.
- Use the top shelf to store common groceries, dining wear and even clothes. We can’t trick our subconscious, but we can ask our conscious brain to reach up, extend and change muscle tension. This prevents muscular creep from building up which can act like a boa constrictor tightening progressively throughout the day.
- Even hanging the washing out on the line. On the great Australian Hills Hoist, crank the height to reach high overhead. For those using portable lines, try pegging an entire load of clothes up, while balancing on your knees. Keep yourself upright and extend from your back and shoulders. First time around it will seem like a workout!
“Breath is the power of all things, I breathe in and I know good things will happen” Tao Porchon Lynch
Start with the breath.
If you want to change virtually any aspect of your life from mental clarity, sporting performance or posture, start with the breath. On a neural level, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breathing helps toggle and switch between the constant state of readiness or sympathetic overdrive, sometimes known as fight/flight, to the calm, recovery state sometimes known as the rest/digest or parasympathetic system. Physically your lungs form an integral part of your true core muscles. The diaphragm anchors the ribs, mid back and abdominal cavity. Breathing deeply through the diaphragm creates stability through the mid and lower back, creating a strong and mobile spine. Conversely, shallow chest breathing tightens the shoulders and pecs dragging the shoulders inward.
For today just take 3 deep breaths:
- Feel the breath in and out through the nose. Allow the belly to expand both up and outwards as the ribs fully expand and open.
- Try to feel the breath all the way. From its beginning on the in breath, through to the pause in between, through to the exhalation and to the pause at the end.
- Aim to have the exhalation twice as long as the inspiration. It’s just 3 breaths, make it count. Even as little as 3 deep breaths can help switch from a tensed, fight/flight state to a relaxed, rebuilding parasympathetic state.
- Still focusing on the breath, aim to take 10 belly breaths in and out through the nose lying flat on your back.
- Try this twice today by starting with your fingers lightly touching over your belly, feel the fingertips come apart as your rib cage opens and expands upward and outwards.
This can be real tricky for many people with sleep apnoea and it’s a real reason why correct breathing is a key skill to train. For those with sleep apnoea the awareness of breathing dysfunction is at night. However, is the dysfunction only at night? Chances are if there’s a breathing dysfunction, it’s there day and night however, during the day consciously it may be controlled. At night, the subconscious takes over and we can’t trick the subconscious.
- For another challenge while lying down- try the exact same sequence but this time interlock your fingers on your head, while feeling and focusing on the ribs and diaphragm expanding upwards and outwards on inspiration.
Can you breathe well when standing?
- Focusing again on 10 deep breaths.
- Stand tall with your hands on your head, fingers interlocked. It’s harder to feel the rib and diaphragm movement when standing so be patient. If you can do all this you’ve efficiently and correctly learnt to breathe!
This will have a huge effect on your overall tone and posture, not just structurally but of your entire nervous system too. I admit, it is funny to think of breathing as a skill, but it is something that many of us need to train. Linking your posture to your breath will certainly help create a new you!
“First move well, then move often” Gray Cook
Trying to be perfect 24/7 is doomed to fail. Instead focus on the deliberate practice of improving each and every day. The goal here is to drip feed the potential for change through your nervous system and muscles creating a change over time. In order to hard wire the new skill, we first need to code these new and improved updates and sequences.
- Today grossly exaggerate perfect posture for as little as 15 seconds and repeat 3x throughout the day. According to Gray Cook, “first move well, then move often.” Although posture is simple, don’t be confused, holding PERFECT POSTURE is a skill.
- Stand or sit as tall as possible, keeping your head inline with your shoulders or even tuck your chin a little. Really pull your shoulders back and feel a light squeeze between the shoulder blades. Feel the strong cord of muscle support from your pelvis to your rib cage and don’t forget to breathe.
Welcome to PERFECT POSTURE.
Now your system is coded, updates are ready to be installed.
- Up the length of the PERFECT POSTURE hold to 30″ 6 x today. If you’ve got this far you are kicking goals. Now my question is can you embrace it?
- Can you hold perfect posture 3 x 60″ today in various positions? Can you hold PERFECT POSTURE for 60″ sitting, driving and standing?
Awareness, breath and PERFECT POSTURE are the TOP 3 critical steps when it comes to improving, maintaining and training posture. It’s hard to reach the top of the ladder without climbing the bottom rungs first. Awareness, breath and the simple practice of PERFECT POSTURE creates the foundation for future progress. Similarly, these are changes we believe you can start right away.
Stay tuned for PART 2: Mobilise and Strengthen. Improve the tone health and vitality of your spine, nervous system and body.