Posture is defined as the way that an individual carries his or her body both while stationary or in motion. Posture will be different for everyone as there are many intrinsic factors that influence an individual’s posture; including one’s daily habit and routine to one’s anatomical structure. However, regardless of these intrinsic factors, as it pertains to posture, there is still an “ideal” that we should strive toward.
Since you were young, you’ve heard plenty of fuss about posture: “sit up straight”, “stand tall”, “don’t slouch”. But why? What is all the fuss about? Why is posture so important? It’s important because it protects your lifeline – your spine. Besides keeping you upright, your spine protects your spinal cord which, combined with your brain form your central nervous system and control everything that you do. Good posture will reduce the stress on your spine – pretty important. Right?
So, what is “good posture”? Acknowledging again that we are all built differently, there is a certain alignment deemed best to protect and preserve your spine. The closer you can get to this alignment, the better set you are for spinal longevity. Without complicating the matter, good posture is the alignment of several major landmarks – the ears, shoulders, hips, spine, hips, knees, and ankles. By design, the spine comes equipped with curves and if you maintain their natural curvature, those landmarks should be in relative alignment and will best put you in a position to safety bear load; whether just your bodyweight or otherwise.
Cause and Effect of Spinal Misalignment (Bad Posture)
We were all born with good posture but, as time progressed, some of us continue to walk with proud chests and heads held high while others begin to look like they’re destined for a life in the bell towers of Notre Dame. Why does this happen? Are some just luckier than others? Sure, we shouldn’t rule out the possibility that some luck may be involved. Being genetically gifted and having perfect anatomical proportions will certainly aid in good posture but, in large part, poor postural habits and stagnant lifestyles are to blame for poor posture.
Good posture begins and ends with strong muscular balance. A state of muscular balance preserves the integrity and alignment of your joints – those structural landmarks. A lifetime of habits and tendencies will lead to some muscles being overused and tight – dominant muscles – and some being lengthened and weak. This is a state of muscular imbalance and it’s this muscular imbalance that results in certain muscles having greater influence than their counterparts on the joints that they’re attached to. Consequently, said joint is pulled out of alignment and this misalignment progressively transcends through the entire chain causing a state of flux in your overall posture. Additionally, we’re simply not moving enough – by design, our bodies are made to move. Not only simple movements like walking but also complex movements such as running and jumping. However, with the advancement and evolution of society and technology, we’ve come to move less and less. And, it’s only getting worse. You can read more about this here.
Two of the most common postural faults are Upper Cross Syndrome (“UCS”) and Lower Cross Syndrome (“LCS”). Whether or not you’ve heard of them, you’ve definitely seen them or presently suffer from them. Do you know anyone whose head protrudes forward or whose shoulders are rolled forward? He or she likely has UCS. Unless properly conditioned, it’s difficult to avoid UCS as this condition is caused by any prolonged activity that requires you to “hunch” over. This includes, but is not limited to, using a computer at work, reading, and texting on your phone. These activities tighten your neck muscles, i.e. upper trapezius, and your chest muscles, i.e. pec major and minor, and weaken your mid-back muscles, i.e. rhomboids and lower trapezius.
Now, do you know anyone who looks like they’re always flaunting or exaggerating their butt. He or she likely has LCS. Unless proper preventative measures are undertaken, LCS is difficult to avoid as this condition is caused by prolonged periods of sitting – who amongst us doesn’t sit? Today – post-industrialization – we all sit too much! For women, this condition is further exacerbated by wearing high-heels. These activities tighten your low back and hip flexors and weaken your glutes and abdominal muscles.
You have UCS, LCS, or both. So, what? Well, besides looking disproportionate, these muscular imbalances, if not corrected or reversed, will cause undue stress on your spine and your joints and will lead to various degrees of injury. One of the most common injuries that we suffer from today is low back pain. LCS, specifically shortened flexors, causes excessive pull and stress on your lumbar spine – hyperlordosis. Not only will prolonged UCS lead to an undesirable “hunchback” look, it will also reduce mobility in your thoracic spine. Why is this important? Unlike your lumbar spine which was designed for stability, your thoracic spine was designed for mobility – rotation, flexion, and extension. An immobile thoracic spine means that the lumbar spine will bear the brunt of a load that it wasn’t made to bear. PROTECT your lifeline!
UCS and LCS are only two possible conditions caused by imbalanced muscle pairs – with hundreds of muscles in the human body, there are many other possibilities of muscular imbalance, all of which can have equally detrimental effects.
Prevent vs. Repair
Whether it’s health or otherwise, we tend to procrastinate. We would rather repair than prevent. It should be realized that there is a lot of time and money to be saved and a lot of discomfort to be avoided by being preventative rather than corrective. Again, without complicating the matter, preventative measures mean focusing on stretching tight muscles and strengthening weak muscles. It also means creating a balanced and intentional training program, i.e. to correct UCS, perform more horizontal pulling movements such as rows to strengthen your rhomboids as well as focusing on stretches that target your pecs and traps. Yes, this is an oversimplification but, it’s a great start.
The Evolution has been designed to leverage the awesome potential of resistance bands to prevent (and correct) muscular imbalances and postural faults. Embedded into the Evolution are unique mechanisms such as angular resistance and unilateral loading. Angular resistance engages muscles fibers that wouldn’t otherwise be engaged and unilateral (single-sided) loads give you the ability to isolate or emphasize weak muscles.
To learn more about the Evolution and how it can benefit you, read this unsolicited review by Ascension Wellness Chiropractor, Johnathon Ng.
It’s time to find alignment.