By David Wargo
A topic that comes up regularly with clients at our clinic is how to move their bodies on a daily basis. The problem is that we humans have never been taught that how we stand, sit, and walk has a huge impact on our joints, muscles and even on our nervous system.
Movement and alignment practitioners can spot orthopedic problems with just a glance, noticing a person’s issues in their movement and posture and where in the body those positions may manifest in tension, pain, or injury. We see the direction of their feet, the angle of their hands, the placement of their pelvis and head, and to us it’s crucial information as to why they have recurring pain and injures.
One of our core philosophies is to teach clients how to use their bodies correctly to feel better, stop pain and avoid further injury. Last month I talked a little about the importance of posture and good mechanics while walking; this month I’ll cover standing.
Standing correctly can strengthen your abdominal and core muscles, release your shoulders, relieve neck pain, stop back pain, and even stop knee pain. When our clients stand up straight for the first time in years, they look and feel much taller, and they also look confident and in control.
When you stand, remember the phrase “always be squeezing,” which is what we tell all our clients to do the minute they stand up. This is a reminder to push your pelvis forward and squeeze you gluteal or “butt” muscles so that your pelvis is kept forward throughout your day.
This is important because most people have weak or atrophied gluteal muscles from sitting all day. Weak and atrophied gluteal muscles are horrible for the human body because they are the biggest protector of your lower back, knees and posture. If you can remember to keep squeezing your gluteal muscles throughout the day, they will begin to strengthen with continued use, and your knees, lower back and posture will thank you for it.
I’ll give you one more tip that will help your posture even more. After you stand and squeeze your gluteal muscles, lift your ribcage, just above your belly button. You can achieve this by leaning your upper body back slightly above the pelvis. This will cause your upper body to become more vertical. This takes pressure off your spine, engages your abdominal muscles and removes pressure from your shoulders, which will be less hunched in this position.
The more you practice these simple and easy techniques, the better your body will feel.
David Wargo is a movement and alignment practitioner and the founding director of movement360.com. David teaches movement and alignment techniques at his clinic in Santa Fe, New Mexico.