Functional Fitness – Health and Fitness Success: Do You Have Good Posture & Body Mechanics?
Posted Jun 28 2012 10:00pm
Are you confident that you have good Posture habits? Are the curves of your spine in the right places? Do you have any annoying aches, pains, or chronic injuries? Have you ever had a serious injury, sprained ankle, broken bone, been in a car wreck, or had a major surgery? Does your job have you seated in a chair for 8-10 hours a day, or on your feet all day? Or perhaps you have to do the same repetitive motion for work or a sport activity?
All of these things have the potential to affect our good posture and balanced muscle development. Pretty much everybody has a dominant side and a weaker side. Do you know which is which for you?
If there’s an extreme difference, chances are you’re posture and body mechanic habits may not be as healthy and wonderful and you think they are. Poor posture habits result in poor body mechanics, and even a very small imbalance can have a huge impact over time!
Our body is an amazing machine. The brain will ALWAYS find a way to get the body to perform an action if it’s at all possible for us to complete the task. The question then becomes, did the body use the right muscles, or the wrong ones to do the work? If we continually use the wrong muscles, but get the job done, the body accepts this “habit” of muscle use as the correct way to accomplish the task. So the next time you need to complete that task, the body will automatically recruit the wrong muscles. This can be fine, for a while…But when our muscles get tired of doing a job they were not designed to do – the result over time can be nagging pain and chronic injuries.
If you’ve ever sprained an ankle, you know what it’s like to hobble and hop around to stay off your hurt foot. This uneven pattern of hobbling around, develops muscle imbalances in our feet, ankles, and legs. When the foot stops hurting, we look like we’re back to normal, but the muscle imbalance has already been established, and we’ll continue to put just a little less weight on the weaker side that was injured to “protect” it. This is a part of the reason why it’s so much easier to re-injury things once they’ve been hurt. Long term, if not corrected this imbalance can lead to pain in the other foot, knees, hips, back and even shoulder and neck pain UNLESS we actively take steps to retrain the body and remove the muscle imbalance pattern from our system for good.
It might not happen overnight… Think about how long you’ve been using a potential bad habit. There’s going to be some re-training to do, and this will be a process that is both mental and physical. You will need a fair amount of patience, and lots of practice with new functional movement habits to help improve your posture and body mechanics. Some changes will happen quickly, other changes will take time.
First it involves becoming conscious of our posture and weight-bearing habits. Then you’ve got to determine the muscle groups that are over-used, and those that are under-developed so you can start learning and developing new and better muscle firing patterns. This will involve having the right exercises in your workout program to start improving your whole-body health and re-training the body for better balanced muscle development.
Is it possible to do all of this on your own? Maybe… You do need to develop great body awareness. Learning how to be more aware of your posture when you are seated and standing still is definitely the first step. If you’re confident that you’ve got a pretty good sense of body awareness – you can definitely get started on paying attention to posture on your own.
It’s going to be difficult to change movement and exercise habits if you are challenged to feel and find the right muscles you need to support good posture when you’re standing still!
Practicing good posture habits is something you can do ALL the time, which will make it easier to focus on better posture and body alignment during your Pilates and fitness workouts.
If it’s a challenge for you to feel confident or be aware of what your body is doing, or feel specific working or relaxing, it’s OK – you’re not alone. Lots of people have spent their whole lives tuning out when they workout, instead of tuning in. If you’re willing to work on it, with some practice at paying better attention (and perhaps a little extra assistance from a great coach, mentor, Pilates teacher, or trainer) you can always learn more and get in better touch with your body!
Developing better posture, body awareness, body mechanics, and functional movement habits is a key strategy for health and fitness success. Start now by evaluate your current posture habits and let that information guide you towards the right exercises to help improve your health and fitness to enjoy better balanced muscle development for a healthy and active life. Get started with new and improved posture habits today.
In the works…The third article in this Health and Fitness Success series: Good Health Starts from the Ground Up – Simple Strategies to Stay Safe & Injury Free.
“This 60-page study guide and DVD work exceptionally well to increase postural awareness, help reduce joint stress, and improve balance and control. Whether you’re a novice in need of developing workout programs to correct posture or an expert looking to teach posture principles to students, this collection is thorough and spot-on.”