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The 4 Pillars of Perfect Posture

04/22/2015, 5:00am PDT
By Kelvin Cech

If you're breathing, your body is one of these 4 states

 

Your entire life hinges on the way you stand, how you walk and how you sleep. The shapes we contort ourselves into have a direct effect on not only our ability to play sports or exercise, but to complete daily activities like sitting at a desk or vacuuming the floor. 

Good posture is the feature that most distinguishes us from cavemen. Think about it; if aliens from a million years in the future saw a picture of a neanderthal next to homosapien man, how would they tell the difference?

So stand up straight, son. Show the world you mean business. 

With help from the NSWC’s registered massage therapist Stephanie Roberts, here are the four pillars of posture.

1. Sitting

Sit at a desk for most of the day? It’s not great for the ol’ spine. 

  • Keep your head straight forward
  • Keep your shoulder back relaxingly (it’s a word, look it up)
  • Keep your feet flat on the floor
  • Keep your arms supported

When you get tired of sitting like a robot? Get up, eat a banana and go for a walk.

2. Standing

Like we said, no one wants to be mistaken for the Cro-magnon man when ET descends upon the earth. 

  • Keep your shoulders back
  • Flex your belly to stay straighter
  • Let your knees bend a bit
  • Wear good shoes all day

You don’t need to puff your chest out like a gorilla asserting dominance, instead focus on standing upright without exaggerating anything.

3. Running

When was the last time you watched Forrest Gump? That guy could run, holy moly.

  • Keep your head up
  • Look forward, not back (this is deep on so many levels)
  • Run on the midpoint of your foot
  • Spend money on good shoes before yours wear out like Forrest Gump’s

I just watched a youtube clip of Forrest Gump running, and it’s actually not that inspirational. He just looks tired all the time.

4. Sleeping

After I got my first massage ever, Stephanie told me to sleep on my back with a pillow underneath my knees instead of underneath my head. “This will relax the muscles you’re screwing up by writing and shooting pucks all day.”

It definitely helped, but there’s more you can do to get a good night’s rest.

There have been hundreds of studies done on the effects sleep has on our physical state of being as well as our emotional states. We all want to sleep more, but does sleeping more actually have that much of an effect? Or should we concern ourselves more with the quality of our sleep rather than quantity?

Hint, it’s the thing I just said: quality trumps quantity. 

Here’s an excerpt from a post I wrote about the science of sleep for Aaram Inc., a mattress company in Edmonton:

“While we’re awake, neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine travel from our brain to the spinal cord to keep us awake and active. When we sleep, these neurons switch off like a bedside lamp, allowing our body and our conscious mind to shut down for the night. 

Additionally, the NINDS says that a chemical called adenosine “builds up in our blood while we’re awake and causes drowsiness.” After we drift off, adenosine starts breaking down. 

The problem we run into is that if these neurotransmitters aren’t flowing properly overnight, then they can’t do their jobs. In other words, this means that if our spine and our back muscles aren’t sufficiently supported during the night, then our serotonin and norepinephrine sleep signals will have a difficult time travelling between our spinal cord and our brain. 

The result? Fewer ‘sleep signals’.”

Read more about the science of sleep from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders

Great Posture All Day Long

What does sleeping mean for your posture? Well, above we listed the importance of engaging your stomach muscles to help you stand up straighter while you’re walking. If you stand up straighter, your muscle usage is spread out rather than relying on one muscle group to keep you upright. Is it easy to flex your belly all day when you’re over-tired or just plain angry for no reason?

No, it’s not. Getting a high-quality sleep is an endless cycle of awesomeness. You have more energy, which means your core muscles are more inclined to do a bit of work, which spreads your energy throughout your body, which keeps your posture in check, which makes it that much easier to continue the cycle all over again. 

Great posture is a habit. It doesn’t come easily at first, but once you get into a mindset where you acknowledge your own bad posture (or your massage therapist calls you “a mess”), then it’s easier to maintain the pillars of good posture. 

Alright, I’ve been writing for an hour. Banana time!

 

People can book by emailing Stephanie directly at StephanieRMT@nswc.ca and setting up an appointment.

 Hours: Tuesdays from 2pm till 7pm and Thursday from 7am - 2pm.

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