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How Strong is Your Posture?

How strong is your posture? Think about it. Do you even know what ‘strong ‘posture is?

You know posture is important because either you’ve seen, heard or intuitively noticed that posture is the first communication we make with others. You’ve probably also noticed that there are some excellent disciplines promoting the power of ‘good’ posture. Feldenkrais, Alexander techniques, Yoga and Pilates all share the same message: ‘good’ posture is synonymous with good health.

Good VS Strong:

Posture is usually defined as ‘the position or bearing of the whole body, whether characteristic or assumed, for a special purpose’ or words to that affect. Defining ‘good’ posture is a bit harder; and doesn’t necessarily adhere to a rigid formula.
Perhaps simply we can consider it as ‘a good habit that contributes to the well-being of the individual.

For me, ‘Strong’ posture is a body that is balanced, strong and performing efficiently, whilst supporting the body against injury or progressive deformity. Strong posture is muscles working in an optimum sequence at the right time. However, this appears to be more difficult to achieve than at any other time in human history. The statistics on neck, low back and shoulder pain would suggest that there is in fact a muscle and joint pain epidemic.

What is going wrong?

The answer for some of you is that your central nervous system is just not able to get messages to the muscles effectively. If muscles aren’t told what to do then they can’t work. Why does this happen? Well there are simply far too many reasons to cover them in this blog but the realities of this 21st century lifestyle are making our nervous and musculoskeletal systems sick.

Your brain thinks in movements and not static, rigid forms or isolated muscles. For example, do YOU struggle to get your glutes to work? Gentlemen that is aimed at you too! Your gluteal muscles make up part of a chain that make you strong. I am aware that I have just posed quite a personal question, but if you are one of the many having trouble recruiting that powerhouse muscle then you are likely weak in a whole chain of muscles…plus you are more likely to develop hip, low back, neck and shoulder pain. It’s that simple and potentially serious.

To get any muscles working and keep your body performing efficiently, you first need to know where everything is – literally not theoretically. In academic circles there are words to describe a very special link between your brain and your body, that word is proprioception. In fact there are a variety of ways to describe awareness of your body parts.

Take the title of some research I did as an example of how silly it gets: ‘the effects of proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation on cervicocephalic kinaesthetic sensibility’. So as not to alienate anyone, should you like an intellectual answer about forming your own continuum of stability then please bring a coffee to the spa and we can talk personal Eigenvectors, inappropriate activation amplitudes and load deformation.

However, this mini-series will keep it light and explore why posture is so important and how it affects performance.
Posture is controlled by your brain on what’s called a feed-forward, feed-back system with the brain talking to the body. The ability to bend, lift, stand and twist is genetically coded and waiting for activation from birth, it is as innate as arousal by sudden unexpected loud noises.

If you train your body to slump from an early age then that will be the language it speaks:

“We are born with innate skills that we share with animals. We are born prepared to perceive the world around us, recognise objects, orient attention and avoid losses. Other activities become fast and automatic through prolonged practice” (Daniel Kahneman)

We are all a product of our experiences and past injuries so one major component in each client’s plan is a bespoke programme. Some require strange devices and tools to help drive attentional selection of forgotten pathways. Others just need small adjustments.

My role at KX is to fix broken clients and get them working as effectively as possible. The majority arrive as patients, presenting with symptoms and problems, they leave empowered with answers and I’m proud to add “feeling better.”

Perhaps we can now re-frame my original question of ‘how strong is your posture’ to ‘how well does your brain communicate with your muscles, bones and skin’? Is it a strong healthy communication? Or a weak and sick one? This communication will determine not only how likely you are to suffer an injury, but whether you will get the most from your training. So don’t rush to an answer!

In this mini-series I will talk about how ‘posture’ is important to reduce injury risk to the most commonly affected joints in the body:

-Neck & Shoulder
- Low Back
- Knee & Ankle

To be continued..

Ben is an English Doctor of Chiropractic (DC) focused on supporting clients to achieve peak performance, posture and health. He works closely with the Personal trainers at KX to develop strategies to achieve or maintain these goals and develop rehabilitative programmes where necessary.
Through his private clinical work in Surrey and Harley Street, Ben has treated a variety of sports men and women including international Rugby, Polo and Tennis players and several athletes at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Ben is registered with the General Chiropractic Council (GCC), the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) and European Chiropractors’ Union (ECU).

Health, Chiropractor

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