Nearly all of us began our lives with naturally balanced posture. Yet, along the way, we modeled the posture of others, spent our days inactive and, over time, transformed our beautifully designed musculoskeletal systems into an imbalanced, overworked, and often-painful body framework. If we want to be healthy as we age, learning how to balance our postures and mechanics is essential.
When our bodies are not properly balanced, there are several consequences:
- Our joints don’t move fluidly, may lose some of their natural range of motion and suffer needless wear and tear because our bones don’t track properly. This can contribute to both a reduction in function as well as pain or debilitating conditions such as osteoarthritis
- Our muscles become overworked as they are recruited to compensate for the imbalance. Instead of healthy muscle pairs that are relaxed, healthy and ready to be called upon for movement, they become overstretched or shortened due to the imbalanced orientation of the joints.
- Impaired breathing if the ribs – and lungs – are not allowed to fully expand. This is largely due to regularly contracting the abdominal muscles.
- Compressed vertebral discs, contributing to disc issues and a narrowing of the openings for nerves, blood vessels, and tendons.
Many of us believe that how we age is due to the luck of the draw, but more important is what we do and how we carry ourselves as we go through life. Cultures that maintain their balanced postures and whose daily lives require physical activity remain active and healthy throughout their lives, while many developed countries, with all of their conveniences, report “epidemic” levels of back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders.
It is often said that in order to be healthy throughout our lives, we must remain active. While this is very true, we must go a step further and understand that in order to remain active, we must regain the natural, balanced posture that we were born with. For most of us, this means re-learning how to sit, stand and move as we did as a child.
This process can take some time – generally from a month to a year – because our muscles have adjusted to imbalance and may be tight, short or deconditioned due to over- or underuse. When our bones are in natural alignment, our muscles can relax until called upon for movement.
The human body is strong, flexible and remarkably designed. Our bodies do not suffer from faulty design or evolution gone awry. Our spines are not delicate or fragile, but impeccably designed, strong and capable.
The purpose of balancing your posture is to orient, move and live with ease, as your body is designed, so that you can continue to be active and enjoy the things you like to do for the duration of your life. Pain is not a natural, expected component of life and aging, so balance your posture and get moving!
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Copyright © 2016 Mary A. Williams, Corporate Health Alliance/BACKCoach. All rights reserved. This article was originally published in the September, 2016, issue of Healthy Cells Magazine.