Why do we talk so much about alignment? Why does it matter? Alignment/Positioning/Posture, whatever you choose to call it, is one of the key ingredients to a healthy body and a strong core! Why? Because if you go to the gym or get out your yoga mat and do all of this wonderful and deliberate strengthening for your core, your booty, your back, or whatever part of the body you are working, but then get up and go home and fall into a poor posture habit, you’re not teaching those muscles how to work in LIFE. You are working them so hard for an hour or so and then effectively ignoring them for the rest of the day. Exercising without considering alignment/posture is like taking your vitamins and supplements - a very healthy choice - but then not actually considering your diet and eating McDonalds for the rest of the day. You’re slowing down your progress and leaving some positive results behind! Corrective exercises are not nearly as effective when done on top of a faulty system. Body awareness is key!
Why? Because our bodies are beautifully designed for function! Our muscles attach to our bones so the positioning of our bones affect the length-tension relationship of the muscles, and therefore their efficiency. Re-train your body to strengthen and engage the muscles, and then let your body use them during the movements of your day to day life by being in a good, optimal position! Life becomes your exercise so you are actually coordinating and re-patterning throughout ALL of your waking hours.
Now, changing posture habits is hard and takes time, just like any habit. It’s not about being perfect so please don’t get frustrated with yourself - it’s about becoming more aware and making shifts here and there. It’s about being consistent in trying to make a change. And there is no “perfect” posture or “perfect” alignment - we are meant to be dynamic and move and have the ability to accept loads and forces in a variety of different positions. But understanding the relationship of how your body parts are aligned will make a huge difference in recovery, and can actually improve performance because it gives your muscles….and therefore you….more power! That’s why there is such thing as proper “running form” and “lifting form” and “squatting form”, etc.
My favorite areas to hone in on are the pelvis and ribs because they are our center and everything is set up around them (see video below). People always ask me: “should I be contracting my core and pelvic floor when I’m standing to stabilize my spine and pelvis?” The answer is NO - leave that for when you are doing focused stability and strengthening work! There is a natural, reflexive, light tension in our core and pelvic floor when standing to hold us up against gravity. However, these muscles are turned on simply by proper positioning! It should not a conscious contraction, just an awareness of where your body is in space, to activate these muscles. Holding “bellybutton to spine” or gripping your pelvic floor for fear of leaking actually creates more altered pressure and more problems because none of our muscles in our bodies are meant to be turned on all day! That leads to fatigue and inefficiency because they need to be dynamic. Let them be naturally engaged with your alignment and ready to fire when they are called upon…..and then when a load is applied - like lifting your child - you will feel your core kick in on a deeper level. Please watch the video below because I don’t want this post to become a novel with points to make about different body parts! It is filled with some tips that I repeat over and over again to every client I see :) When you shift to a better position, you “stack your blocks” and become more stable against gravity while also setting your muscles up to be more efficient and your breath up to be fuller. So start becoming aware of your posture habits, make some conscious and repetitive shifts (because it’s WORK to change a habit), and unlock some extra strength and freedom of movement!
Get in the habit of being aware of your habits!