All of us know of parents, grandparents, neighbors, anyone that comes into your mind that you have noticed a change in their posture over the years. Is this now happening to you? Maybe? Changing posture is a very insidious occurrence. We don’t physically notice the changes until we can no longer reach high up in the cabinet for that special bowl we need. Or, our lower back becomes stiff from sitting for even as much as 20 minutes. Or we can no longer squat to the ground as we were once able. Or turning your head as you back up your car is now either stiff or painful. You then develop alternative methods because you can no longer perform these movements. Why is this? Losing the range of motion in any one joint causes changes and alterations in many other areas in your body that you are not aware of! This is especially true when there is not a traumatic event to associate the changes with. Let us review a few reasons why this occurs and then a few methods to combat the soft tissue changes that ultimately change our posture.
Soft Tissue Has Power!
Normally, we do not think of our soft tissues has having power, but they certainly do. Fascia, the newest accepted organ of the body is meant to be strong, elastic, and slide and glide as we move. It has a covering, whether thick or thin, over every part and parcel in our body. Fascia is strong and is known to have contractile powers, yet not eccentric abilities. Eccentric means the ability for a tissue, as in muscle to contract, yet become long at the same time. This means that fascia once contracted repeated over time may have the tendency to want to remain in the position. This is one reason that creates abnormal forces on tendons and joints. With this being said, static postures that is your worst repetitive motion, awkward postures, highly repetitive motions without rests, unexercising, incorrect food intake, emotional stressors, all together form to create changes within your body that you cannot detect until; until you cannot turn your head normally until you cannot squat to the floor normally until you cannot reach high into the cabinet for the bowl, and until you feel that stiffness upon standing when only sitting for 20 minutes. All of this changes your posture. Now you may notice that increased thoracic curve if looking in the mirror, or your shoulders are so far forward, you have these indents between your pecs and collar bones.
Regain Your Power Over Your Soft Tissue!
I am not the pessimist or fatalist. I am heralding a trumpet call for any individual that really wants to create optimal changes in their body. Even if you have Parkinson’s, you can maintain optimal postures for much longer periods of time. My husband is proof of this. What are some methods to create changes for an optimal body posture? It does demand commitment of daily work, 5 – 10 minutes. Your diligence will pay off. Will the changes happen quickly? It takes the time it takes. The more time you put into this the faster the results. And, no, the results are not permanent. This is a lifestyle change. First, you want to take a baseline of where you are in your joint motions:
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, here are movements that are considered normal and you should strive for:
Thank you SFMA for this picture!
These movements should not cause pain! Do not attempt if you already know you have joint movement challenges in any of these areas. This is meant to bring to your attention how malleable we can still become.
STRATEGIES TO INCREASING YOUR OPTIMAL POSTURE AND MOVEMENT
Many of us have challenges in one or more joints. Choose the least restricted joint and begin to slowly use a dynamic movement, rather than a prolonged stretch, to increase the range of motion. Laying down is a great method to use for neck, shoulders, hips, knees, and low back. Remember, this is how babies begin to increase their range of motion and strength; they are laying down first because they do not have the trunk control sit up. So, babies begin by wiggling and jiggling, and discovering a hand, a foot, and work on that movement. They do not know they are exercising and increasing in the range of motion along with muscle strength and control.
The best method is to contact a professional to educate, teach, and empower you to optimize your soft tissue so you have power over your soft tissue!