Home Baseball Content Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 41 (Posture Edition)

Quick and Easy Ways to Feel and Move Better: Installment 41 (Posture Edition)

Written on April 30, 2013 at 8:48 am, by Eric Cressey

Thanks to Greg Robins, here are five tips for the week, with a focus on postural awareness.

1. Monitor head positioning during supine bridge and hip thrust variations.

2. Consider this routine to taking your breath before lifts.

Breathing is a big part of postural awareness.  Check out this video for ensuring that you’re locking things in correctly before big lifts:

3-5. Avoid parafunctional habits.

The following three points will be based on a common theme: “Parafunctional Habits.”

A parafunctional habit is a habitual movement, or positioning that differs from the most common, or ideal movement and / or positioning of the body. It can also be a habitual positioning or movement of the body that’s continuous exposure (repetitive practice of) leads to certain asymmetries or dysfunctions.

When I think about how to attack posture changes both with my clients and myself, I look for the most efficient ways to change daily habits. In other words, I look at how we can disrupt parafunctional habits.

“Posture is a composite of the positions of the positions of all the joints of the body at any given moment. If a position is habitual, there will be a correlation between alignment and muscle test findings.” – Florence Kendall (Adapted from PRI’s Postural Respiration)

Many of us tend to default to the same habitual movements and positions. Here are three examples, and three quick fixes. Making a point to apply these corrections will have a tremendously positive outcome in helping you “feel and move better.”

3. Don’t stand on the same leg all the time.

For a variety of reasons, many of us will tend to shift onto one leg when standing in place for a period of time. Our body is always looking for the most efficient way to “survive.” Shifting onto one leg is any easy way to gain passive stability, via our positioning.

Many of us will tend to shift onto the right leg. Why? In short, it’s easier for us to pull air into our left side, in light of the normal structural asymmetries you see with human anatomy. Breathing is kind of important. It’s also not fun to rob ourselves of air. Enter the “right stance,” an aberrant posture you’ll see all too often.

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Start paying attention to how you stand at rest. Additionally, look around and notice how others stand at rest. I bet it looks a lot like the picture above. This is something we see on extreme levels in some of our right-handed throwing athletes; they’re right handed people, in a unilateral sport, in a right-handed world!

Now, let’s make a change. For now on, use the picture below as a guide for how to stand when you shift onto one leg. Place the right leg in front of the left, and shift your weight into the left hip. If you are doing it correctly, your left hip will sit just below the right. Give it a try!

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4. Cross your right leg over the left, and cross your right arm over your left.

In a similar fashion to your default standing position, those who tend to cross their legs will generally go left over right. Why? Same reason: it’s easier to sit into the right hip, and breathe into the left side. Instead, start doing the opposite. From now on cross the right over the left, and feel the left hip dig into your seat.

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Do the same with your arms. Instead of crossing left over right, cross right over left. Close down the left side, and open up the right.

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5. Change the way you sit while driving.

Driving is a GREAT place to work on positioning. Notice that your default is to slump over to the right side, opening the left leg and possibly resting it against the door. Instead, try this:

As you sit reading this, pretend like you’re in your car. First, even up your thighs and feet. Keep a space about the size of your fist between your two knees. At this point, your knees and feet should be even, or you might find the right slightly behind the left. Move the right foot into a position as if it was working the gas and brake pedal. You should look like this:

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Now, pull your left hip back and push your right hip forward. This will leave the left knee behind the right.

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You will notice the upper, inner thigh of your left leg “turning on.” Reach for the steering wheel with both hands. Consider this your new driving position. If you tend to drive with one arm, start making it your right arm. Leave the left arm hanging down to the side, causing a slight side bend to the left.

All of these positions will seem uncomfortable at first. That’s okay! Use them as much as possible, but allow yourself to just “chill” sometimes. Making these small changes is a fantastic way to better your posture and change your habits. Working on them will pay off in the long run, and you may even find your nagging aches and pains disappearing.

For more information on these postural approaches, check out www.PosturalRestoration.com.

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  • Great summary of everything discussed in the past couple of weeks. Hope to be back down there soon for another group of great speakers! Seeing some of the PRI stuff in person was a huge game changer.

  • Devin Gray

    Great post, really appreciate the postural tips for every day. Especially when driving, I’ll give that a shot.

    I train a lot of elderly clients – lots of kyphosis and forward head posture. They often have difficulty keeping good head positioning during hip thrusts and cramp up in the neck when they try. How would you recommend coaching neck position with this type of client?

  • Kirk

    This is great. I noticed this about myself while standing a few months back. I coach a lot of baseball (aau and high school) When I coach 3rd base for example, I try to stand more neutral. I have a tendency to toe out quite a bit so I try to correct that as well. Especially with my right foot. Ill try to align my toes equal and when i squat or dead lift, by the end of the set my right foot is toed out more than my left … may have something to do with the way I drive among other things. Even when I was a catcher in college and high school my right foot had a tendency to shift down the first base line quite a bit…anyway, Great post!

  • Tyler

    Greg:

    Great insight man. I really appreciate the practical approach. Thank you.

    Tyler

  • Jason

    Great stuff Greg! A bit off topic but still in line with posture, what are some of the things you look at and attack with someone who is stuck in extension during basic exercises? (planks, pushups..etc…) Thanks

  • Rob

    Great form, Greg!

  • @Jason: If someone is stuck in extension during exercises it could be a matter of coaching them into a better position. Mainly teaching them how to posteriorly tilt the pelvis and how to engage their abdominals to lower the rib cage, helping to get their spine out of excessive lumbar extension.

    The other side of that coin is that the person may be “stuck” in a more extended posture all the time. In this case I would poke around and see whats going on with the anterior core, lats, and hip musculature, as well as teach them how to exhale fully. They can still be coached into better positions, but you will want to place a premium on choosing exercises that give them a chance to succeed and taking care of the underlying issues causing their default posture.

  • Great stuff once again, Greg.

    I just noticed today that I always stand on my right leg, and although I’m not having any problems now, I probably will in the future if I don’t address it.

    Keep up the great work, I love the fact that you think outside the box and write about things that no one else talks about.

    Jake

  • Ong Beng Hwee

    Great information. Able to briefly provide the details on the normal structural asymmetries that exists within the human anatomy?

  • Ben Fury

    @Devin Gray

    Forward head posture and kyphosis = excess flexion in the frontal plane with tight flexors and weak over-stretched extensors on the back plane.

    Stretch the stuff in the front, strengthen the stuff in the back and those older clients will start to straighten out and up.

    And don’t buy into the, “I’m too old to straighten up, my doctor says I have osteoporosis and need surgery. (or even worse, ‘and it’s hopeless’ ” bugaboo.

    I’ve seen vast improvements in kyphosis and forward head posture in clients in their ’80s and ’90s. It’s never too late.

    Be well,
    Ben Fury

  • Ong,

    Heart and vena cava on left.

    Liver on right.

    Larger diaphragm leaflet on right, along with three crural attachments to the spine. The diaphragm can also leverage off the liver to be more powerful on the right (to inflate left lung). It’s smaller and there are only two attachments to the spine on the left.

    Three lobes in right lung, and two on the left.

    Our left and right brains work on different tasks as well.

    Good write-up here as well: http://posturalrestoration.com/about/

  • Daniel Malloy

    Another good postural realignment is sleeping on your back.

  • Gary

    Great stuff!

    Eric or greg, have you guys experimented with some PRI exercises to do in between sets of DLs or squats?

    I like to do their deep squat where you spine is in flexion and you do a forward reach with the hands.

  • Amy

    Any suggestions for someone who has been driving manual for the past 20 years?

    I love this post and will putting it to use! I have some “stuff” showing up in my hips, lower back and hamstrings off and on and I bet this is going to help.

  • Dawn B

    Great information!!! Thank you.

  • Amy

    It seems these tips are swaying the body to the opposite side to balance out years of lopsided posture. If so, how long would one assume the positions here before they are balanced & need a neutral posture to maintain that balance?

  • Ong Beng Hwee

    Thanks Eric for answering my question. Keep up the fantastic work.

  • Great article and tips Greg. I just wrote an article for the local paper on this same subject based on some of the “athletes” I work with at Hudson High. One thing I see alot with girls is standing with knees locked, ankles in dorsiflexion. They are in dorsiflexion so frequently during the day that it has affected their running- they sprint on their heels, which obviously = slowness. The other female specific issue I see is single sided leaning in young Moms, after years of holding a baby on one side, hip hiked out.Eventually leads to lots of back and hip issues. Just my two cents from a female persepective.

  • Amy,

    It might be hard to change a ton of what you do while driving (although you can still get your left hip pulled back and reach with the right arm when you aren’t gear shifting), but you can definitely make up the difference during the rest of the day by shifting to the left side while sitting, standing, etc.

  • Fascinating stuff. I think years ago Laree Draper had mentioned something about always standing and leaning on the same foot and so I tend to notice after a while that I’m standing in default mode and try to switch it up — but as soon as I stop paying attention I find that I wind up back in default. At least now I know WHY I do this and have a better reason to remember to switch.

    Oddly, I don’t slump in the car because I have a manual transmission and so I need to be able to push pedals with both legs at all times.
    -Eric

  • Todd Vradenburg

    Good blog post, important stuff. To take learn more about this topic check out an oldie but a goody, Health Through Motion by Pete Egoscue.

  • Amy,

    It’s extremely tough to say, but one thing you can count on is them giving you more stability in the ROM you have – even if it’s excessive.

  • The postural driving tips – does pulling the left h behind the right hip not put you in a twisted position? Also, for right hand drive cars (eg, in the UK) does the postural advice still hold as described or in the description should you read ‘right leg’ rather then ‘left leg’ etc? Thanks

  • Chezhiyan

    I’m assuming step 5 works the same way for Right hand drive’s if I switched left’s to right’s and vice-versa. I’m going to give that a shot. This is something I’ve been playing around with, just the idea ie. I’ll try this out and let you know how it goes. Thanks a bunch for all the great info.


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