In Coaching one of the things I often talk about with my clients is posture whether from a physical or emotional perspective. Our posture impacts us massively - often without us even realising it.
The impact of Covid on posture from where I see it - has been huge. People working long hours over kitchen tables, teens lying in bed hunched over netflix & ipad's, seniors sitting watching television, leaning over jigsaws and reading books for hours on end ......
Backache is a real problem and has a massive cost to individuals and to businesses. But not only that, our posture can have a huge impact on how we portray ourselves and how we are perceived.
Coaching a 15 year old boy recently I adopted the "Kevin' teenage stance and asked "What's the point of training your muscles to look like Superman if you're then going to hunch up?"
Coaching an 87 year old man I asked "Why are you walking like a bent over old man when you feel 35 inside?"
They were both just habits they had adopted which had created muscle imbalances - nothing that could not be fixed with a good dose of stretching, strengthening and in both cases confidence.
Similarly the female entrepreneur I was coaching who was preparing for an important event was standing poorly as her self belief in her presentation skills was low so she was 'hiding'.
From looking at how you stand we can tell a lot about how your body and mind is functioning.
There are 3 natural curves in the spine. Correct posture means we can hold our muscles and bones up against gravity. I like to think of the spine as an amazing piece of artwork with the vertebrae and discs, nerves, connective tissue and ligaments all communicating to get our bodies moving.
When we put stresses on we can end up with all sorts of issues and if we don't use our muscles correctly we can end up with imbalances and some muscles becoming weak whilst others overtighten.
By no means the technical term I call the knots we often can feel in our back - the speedbumps of the body - they are a warning system - telling us we need to slow down and sort it out before we carry on, before we end up with an injury. The correct term is ofcourse adhesions where muscle fibres have got stuck together through tightness. For example sitting slumped over a computer all day can wreak havoc with the back muscles, runners constantly pounding causing micro tears which can lead to adhesions and then potentially further problems like IT Band Syndrome or runner's Knee.
Back and neck pain can be one of the most physically draining issues for the body and can have many untold impacts even to the point that it can often lead to low mood and in some cases alcohol and painkillers become a crux.
So in a nutshell we are very hot on encouraging good posture.
These tips below are for general purposes and if you have any concerns about discs, structural aspects of the body, acute or chronic pain, talk to your health provider.
TIPS FOR MAINTAINING GOOD POSTURE
* breathe in and lift the shoulders up back and exhale as you roll them down
do this at intervals through the day - even setting a phone alarm to remind you on the hour - link this in with a glass of water to keep hydration levels up - great for the vertebrae
* think about a rope lifting you up through the centre of your body and a pole coming across your body horizontally at your clavicle (collarbone) keeping you tall and lifted
don't let your bottom or your chest out -
* when standing let your body move forward and back taking the weight to the balls of the feet then to the heels and then come centre, balancing and distributing your body weight evenly
no side leaning or hip hitching
* If your wear high heels stretch those calves and back at the end of the day
Likewise if you wear totally flat shoes do some calf raises and stretches
* keep your core and upper body muscles strong so that you can lift the body up and not slump down on the low back, and keep the torso in balance
there are several simple exercises like static abdominal breathing you can do even whilst driving, in the supermarket queue .... learn about how to maintain a neutral spine.
* Invest in a foam roller - long 90x15cm
to lie on in the morning and at the end of the day for several minutes - it's a back saver
* Massage - an essential part of body maintenance and too often seen as a luxury or indulgence
whereas for many it's key to remaining pain free
In our coaching we look at posture as an integral part of our body + mind - it can be transformational literally just standing up straight. Get in touch if you would like to find out more.
Happy standing and posturing!