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