I grew up as a long and lanky kid playing every sport that was available to me. I loved team sports and got deeply into soccer and rugby. If I knew then, what I know now about my body, I would have stuck to volleyball and swimming. Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the sports I played, but I routinely felt like I had been hit by a truck afterwards and still have two wonky shoulders to show for it.
I am what you would call hypermobile. That means that the soft tissues that help hold my skeleton and joints together are relatively looser and more flexible than the average person. It is a genetic trait that a large number of people have, but most have no concept that the way they are put together is not “normal,” or the same way everyone else is put together. It does go both ways, some people would be deemed hypomobile, implying that their spine and joints are relatively stiffer than the average population.
My estimation of the incidence of pain and injury as they correlate to genetic joint mobility:
Being loose jointed may sound like a positive genetic attribute, but let me assure you it can pose a lot of problems for people. Gravity can become particularly annoying when you are hypermobile, especially if you have a job that requires you to sit or stand still for any length of time. We are the only creatures on Earth that are built to stand and walk upright on two feet- that biomechanical feat requires a skeleton that provides both structural stability to vertically stack your body, and functional mobility so that you can move freely. Hypermobile people are built to move and have to work a lot harder than everyone else to stack everything up and stay still. Read More
The goal of standing is to vertically stack your spine with a gentle S-curve from your tail bone up to the base your skull. If you look at your side profile, you should be able to draw a straight line down from your earlobe, through your shoulder, the mid line of your torso, your hip, knee and ankle.
This is my Pulp Fiction video/post (the video captures the movements you need to learn). I am showing you the ending first, so you know what you are working towards. You may find yourself coming back to this frequently and will progressively find it easier and easier to accomplish. To start with, standing the way I am describing may feel weird and be really hard, but will look a lot more normal than it feels. It will challenge everything you are bad at and your brain’s perception of what is vertical. A mirror to look at your side profile can be an important tool to help you see what I am showing you, but you need to learn to progressively feel it instead of having to see it.
Step 1 is to learn to use your diaphragm to support your torso upward and stop leaning backwards. Imagine there are two half balloons inside the lower part of your ribcage that you can inflate by taking a deep breath into your lower back ribs. This should lengthen and stretch the lower part of your thoracic spine. It may also feel like it tips you forward. This is the part of your back that was accommodating your neck, but we are going to try and stop that. If you look in the mirror, you will likely see that it is your head that is forward and that your trunk is now actually quite vertical instead of tipped backward. Read More
- Chest up, shoulders back and down is the best posture
Most people think of posture as simply the need to keep your chest up and your shoulders back and down. Sounds like a simple feat right?! Then why will most people admit that they think they have bad posture? The answer to that is because good posture is not a simple thing, it is actually a learned, coordinated skill that encompasses the whole body. We are what we repeatedly do and our posture is a reflection of our childhood, our sports, our jobs, our emotions and our attitudes.
There is a continuum of flexibility and mobility among the population. Some people are naturally very loose jointed and hypermobile while others are compressed and stiff as a board. Where you end up on the spectrum seems to be partly genetic and partly personality. The people that fall in the middle or the average/normal people tend to have the least pain and injury problems. The further a person strays in either direction from the average the more and more posture, movement and pain problems they tend to develop. There is not one perfect posture for everybody, but there is a norm that we should all be trying to achieve no matter which side of normal we are on.
“Stiff as a board” “Normal” “Loosey-goosey”
Our bodies are brilliantly built to deal with gravity as a constant downward force, unfortunately most people don’t know how to use their bodies properly or efficiently and end up with muscle imbalances, pain and dysfunction. Posture should be looked at as a life skill not a genetic trait we can blame on our parents. A very basic understanding of anatomy and biomechanics can save people a lot of grief throughout life. Read More
Posted in Blog
, Low Backs
, Mid Backs
Tagged with: ergonomics
, low back pain
, physical therapy