What is posture, exactly? And what does it mean to have good posture or poor? Can it help you eliminate pain? Or move differently?
These are just a few of the questions surrounding posture and its close relative alignment that Steven Low and Jarlo Ilano aim to answer in their new book overcoming Poor Posture. Posture, they point out, is actually more complex than “muscle x is tight. So we should stretch it and muscley is loose and weak so we should strengthen it and voila! You will stand up taller!” Rather, posture is a conversation between your neurological system and your musculoskeletal system. The outcome of that conversation is based on factors like habits. Adaptations in the body, neurological reflexes and time spent in specific positions.
Posture Versus Alignment
Posture is frequently thought of as a static position. My posture right now as I type this is me. Seated on the ground, with my legs long out in front of me. My ankles are crossed, with my right ankle on top, and my back is supported against the wall. This is one of several postures I utilize while writing.
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Alignment, on the other hand, is how the joints are positioned in relation to each other. When you think of specific fitness skills and how to best perform them, it is alignment you are considering. Alignment is based on a number of factors, including available strength and mobility to perform the task and starting position. I think we can all agree that set up for a deadlift. There are certain starting positions that are more effective than others. What exactly that posture looks like depends on a variety of factors and tissue adaptation. There are people that have performed heavy deadlifts with rounded backs. There are powerlifters with scoliosis whose set-up positions would make most of us cringe. But it works for them, and they don’t have pain.
Finding “ideal” posture and alignment becomes less important than improving strength. Endurance, and control at specific joints and then using that strength, endurance, and control in dynamic movement. Posture and alignment, then, are individualized No two people having postures or alignment during movement that look exactly the same.
This Book Is Worth Reading- Poor Posture
Overcoming Poor Posture does an excellent job of re-framing. How we as a culture are obsessed with aesthetics and discuss how we view posture and alignment. It uses current research to debunk various myths surrounding posture and pain while helping you. The reader, explore ways to build systematic strength, mobility, and coordination throughout the body. At 126 pages, with over 30 pages devoted to exercises and pictures. The book is very readable, not overly technical, and offers excellent ideas. How to address specific areas, including the feet, back, and hips.
This book is also educational. You will gain insight into how and why the body holds itself in specific ways. Why pain is more complex than simply how you look while standing. For a well thought out, effective way to improve your movement quality, I highly recommend this book.