Resilient Body Series – Part 1
Having a body that is strong and resilient is essential for good health. You want your body to be able to handle the demands placed upon it and you want to recover quickly when you push your limits a bit. And as we age, it takes more effort and maintenance to be resilient. When we don’t put in the energy to keep ourselves fit, our bodies adapt to a diminished level of strength and poor postural habits … this is especially true the older we get.
Good posture and biomechanical alignment are an absolute requirement for strength and resilience!
Poor posture leads to muscle tension, fatigue and pain – not great for functioning at our best. This post addresses a common postural problem many people have – a forward head. This is when your head does not naturally line up over the top of your spine; instead it sits forward from your torso creating significant tension and force through your spine and the muscles of your neck and shoulders. Ideal posture is where your head can balance on top of your spine and your muscles in your upper body are not required to perform extra work just to support your head.
Many people spend a lot of time sitting at a desk, hunched over a computer, bent over their phones, driving or slumped on the sofa. These positions cause the spine to round forward; placing the head out in front of our shoulders and a tucking under of the pelvis. This posture places strain through the neck, back, legs, heart, lungs – actually the whole body suffers.
Our body adapts to what we do the most …
So, if this flexed forward posture is how we spend much of our time, guess what? Standing up and moving around only a little bit isn’t going to change much … we are likely to remain a little rounded with our head too far forward and our hip flexors feeling a little tight. This sitting or slouching posture begins to feel “normal” to our neuromuscular system because we are adapting to what we do most of the time. Variety of healthy movement is key to preventing maladaptive postures.
Here’s what you can do to prevent or correct this …
Focus on improving these 3 things: body awareness, strength and mobility … simple, right? It can be, but it’s not always easy. It will take effort. With time and patience your body will begin to adapt to the new movement patterns you are training and those poor postural habits will be replaced with stronger, healthier ones.
Body Awareness: Tune in to your posture while at your desk or wherever you spend a lot of time. Sit up straight! Keep your head over your shoulders and rib cage. Avoid looking down for any prolonged period of time; look straight ahead and hold your mobile device up higher with your arms instead of dropping your head to look down. Adjust your position often while at your desk or on the sofa – it’s not that any one position is “bad” for you, it’s that staying in any one position for too long puts a lot of stress through your tissues. This is what leads to pain and poor posture – your body adapts to what you do the most.
Strength and Mobility: The video below gives you a good place to start when seeking to correct a forward head posture. Improving endurance in the postural muscles of your back and releasing tension in the front of the body are the keys to this postural correction. Movements are demonstrated in the video for strengthening your upper back and relieving tightness across the front of your shoulders and at the base of your head. You can do this daily to retrain your neuromuscular system for better posture. These movements combined with increased awareness of your head position and overall posture, will help you move toward improving your posture and reducing pain.
I’d love to hear how this has helped you. Stay tuned for the next post in this series to find ways to incorporate more varied movement into your day at work and at home.
Get started on your path to better posture and a more resilient body!