Most people develop some degree of muscle compensation patterns in their lifetime and their automatic posture and gait becomes less efficient. Posture conscious people often seek out guidance from one of the schools focused on postural correction. Many interventions have clients focus on body awareness in order to override compensatory postural presentations. Orthotic devices like shoe lifts and posture straps physically alter and override the center of gravity of the body in order to create a different postural response. All these interventions exist because most people can’t or don’t know how to stand properly.
The New York Orthopedic Massage Approach
In New York Orthopedic Massage, we address the root of the neuromuscular disorganization by resetting the functional responses of the muscles, ligaments and tendons that hold distorted postures that seem to snap back no matter how much stretching, foam rolling and exercising you do. After improving the neurological communication between these tissues and the brain, functional movement patterns can be easily reintroduced and recorded by our motor cortex. This is the perfect time to retrain smooth gait and movement into and through the formerly lost ranges of motion that we have avoided due to pain, fear of injury or have just been too tight to achieve. It is important to help clients remind their bodies of the new range of motion they have and their body’s new position in space.
Slouching = Dysfunction
It can be easy to slouch but you should know why it is worth it to make the change. You may think slouching is more relaxed but it actually makes your muscles work harder, robbing strength and flexibility from you in the process. It also makes it harder to breathe deeply and fully, which further reduces energy levels and organ mobility. Among other things, your joints get pulled out of position and accumulated spinal damage is likely.
- The pressure placed on the vertebrae due to poor posture can lead to nerve and disc disease, stiffness, decreased flexibility and mobility, and even reduced strength and sensation in the extremities.
- Good posture relaxes tension in your back and neck muscles which will reduce your physical stress level and can boost your mood and psyche. Studies indicate that people with good posture are on average more confident and energetic, and have better memory skills.
How to Stand Up Straight
Everyone’s been told to “stand up straight!” at some point in life. Although it’s true that standing up straight can make you look taller and a few pounds lighter, good posture is more than a cosmetic concern. Proper alignment reduces stress on muscles, tendons, bones, and internal organs, . Fortunately, even longtime “slouchers” and “hunchers” can retrain themselves to stand up straight.
Find a wall
If you can find a floor and wall, you can easily assess your current posture and reset your body into a proper alignment.
- Stand facing away from the wall, and slowly back up until you are standing in solid contact with it (but not leaning against it).
- Your feet should be pointing straight, shoulder-width apart, flat on the floor beneath you.
- Look straight ahead with your chin slightly tucked.
- Relax. Take time to focus on your breathing. Notice areas of tension in your body and let them go. Try softening your breath and making it quiet.
Feel the wall
Maintain four contact points between your body and the wall. The back of your head, your shoulder blades, your buttocks and your heels. If you can’t line up all four points, take a deep breath and let go of any tension you may be holding. Play with the degree of chin tuck and pelvic tilt you need to get all points on the wall.
You can move your heels away from the wall or even practice this position on the floor if you are struggling to keep all four the points on the wall.
Be the Wall
Once you get a feel for what standing up straight against the wall feels like, walk away from the wall while maintaining your posture and take a breath to relax into the posture.
- in the beginning, your body will want to revert to its familiar unbalanced posture. Try to focus on what proper positioning feels like so you can return to it.
- set a reminder throughout the day to go back against the wall to re-establish your posture.
Gentle posture reminders
Make an “X” from your shoulders to your hips. Add a straight line of tape across your shoulders closing the top of the X. Start with 15 minutes at a time a couple times a day.
- Gently hold your shoulders back before taping.
- Use tape meant for skin, such as a medical tape or Physio tape.
- Instead of tape, you can buy a posture corrector.
Stand in Comfort
- Buy a cushioned mat to stand on. A small gel or foam mat works gives your feet extra support wherever you stand a lot.
Secret bonus NYOM Technique
Once you have found your center or plumb line away from the wall, you are ready for the bonus round.
Using ground reaction force to float
Step:1 Make sure your feet are pointing straight and that your head is over your pelvis. Let go of areas of tension and become aware of the contact between the bottoms of your feet and the ground.
Step 2: Actively and evenly press the bottom of the feet into the ground for a few seconds. Feel what happens up your spine up into the neck. Next, take a deep breath and relax.
You should be able to maintain an upright posture easily and with minor exertion. Think of using the same pressure you would use when pressing your hands together to make prayer or “please” hands. You should feel instantly lighter as if you are floating. As a result, you will feel the unnecessary muscles relax and you should feel firm and supported as if you are wearing your muscles like a mannequin.
Stand Up For Yourself
It can be a complicated process for most people to improve their posture. Ultimately, changing your posture takes more than consistent effort. Posture is hardwired, modulated and recorded in the nervous system. Through New York Orthopedic Massage’s comprehensive system of neuromuscular programming, joint and fascia mobilization, gait and movement retraining exercises, you can attain more effortless balanced posture. The rewards are a pain free balanced quality of life for the future.