I had two new clients today. I spent almost the entire hour with each of them working on standing up
straight. Both of them are post-rehabilitative clients that are coming to me for pain relief so there is no way of moving them forward without getting their alignment pretty close to perfect.
It is impossible to retrain any muscle if it is already too long or too short because of poor posture. For example, using the picture of a typical sway back posture to the right, the pectorals (chest muscles), the gluteals (tushie muscles) and the upper trapezius (back of the neck) are all going to be tight. And even though they are tight, they won’t be strong.
Also, using the picture can you determine which muscles are going to be over-stretched? The hip flexors (fronts of the hips), the abdominals, the lower trapezius and rhomboids (mid-back muscles) and the scalenes or the muscles at the front of the neck will all be over-stretched and saggy and weak.
So what is working to keep this woman vertical? This posture, along with other poor postures, pretty much allows one body structure to rest on top of the next without much muscular support. What happens to the muscles if you pull the alignment back where it should be? The short, tight muscles are lengthened and stretched. The over-stretched, weak muscles strengthen. In fact, the two women I worked with today had this sway back posture that we are talking about and after working on the improved alignment for just 5 minutes they both complained of muscles fatigue in their spinal muscles. Very normal. Those muscles will strengthen quickly and they won’t feel that muscle fatigue for long.
A quick word about the abs before I have to exit to wrangle a couple of dogs… In all poor postures, the abdominals are generally saggy and weak. While we have a nice bony structure towards the back of our torsos, the abdominal muscles are entirely responsible for keeping the fronts of our torsos intact (read: holding your guts in). Your tummy will be flatter with better posture because you actually made room for your organs by standing up straight. If you aren’t standing up straight, there is nothing holding your guts in.
The moral of the story? Stand up straight. When facing side to the mirror your ear should be in line with your shoulder, which is in line with the hip, which is in line with the ankle. No crazy curves with hips and spine and chin breaking that nice straight alignment. And then…. Suck in your guts. Literally.