In last week's post, we introduced you to Bill's P4H Postural Postulate:
.... with an example of how that plays out when carrying a load, such as a box of books.
Let's use another example: this simple act of standing.*
Everyone knows that standing properly is important. Teenagers have been admonished to "Quit slouching and stand up STRAIGHT!" since the beginning of time. (Who knows? Maybe primates first became homo erectus as a result of mommy apes barking that very command! But I digress...)
Q: When we are standing, what is the 'stress load'?
Gravity wants to pull us to the ground. So, in order to stand upright, we are 'managing a stress load'.... literally.
And, how do we best manage that stress load?
~ We make sure our feet are positioned shoulder width apart, and parallel to each other. This is the beginning of good posture because it grounds us. Standing with our legs crossed, or, with one foot jutting way off to the side is not an efficient posture, because our grounding is compromised. Furthermore, if we are standing on a roof top, or the deck of a boat, we will want to adjust our stance to match the terrain.
Which is easier to stand on: a flat surface, or a snow-covered slope?
Grounding can take many forms, but it always accomplishes the same purpose: to firmly connect us to a base.
~ Proper posture when standing will also involve being centered.
Centering simply means, 'equal distribution of a stress load'. (In other words, you want as much weight on one side as you do the other.) When we stand off-center, whether from side to side, or front to back (as in the case of 'head-forward' posture), we are giving gravity more surface to act on, and therefore, we have to work harder to stay upright. When that happens, we are actually making more work for ourselves, or rather... increasing the stress load!
~ The last part of the equation involves alignment. When we are standing, what are we aligning ourselves with?
The answer is: We are aligning all the structures that make up our physical being in relation to the perpendicular force of gravity. The way the bones are stacked, the way our joints articulate, the balanced tone of our muscles - even the pathway(s) of our breath and circulation.... ALL of that needs to come into alignment with the force of gravity while standing.
To the degree that everything is properly aligned, we can say that we have 'good posture'.
Why is posture so important to us?
Because, as bodyworkers, we see the effects of poor posture daily.
Simply put, poor posture causes injuries.
Sometimes, it's an immediate effect, like 'throwing out your back' when lifting something the wrong way. Or, sometimes, it takes a while to show up, as in the case of arthritis, scoliosis, hyperkyphosis, and a host of other -osis'.
We know you know this, and we want to help you understand what 'posture' really consists of, and how it increases your stress load.
Injuries are almost always a result of poor grounding, off-centering, and /or misalignment.
So, internalize the P4H Formula, and think about some ways you can apply it to any situation you're in. When you start to adjust yourself in healthy relation to a stress load, you will truly be Posturing for Health!
(*We're using 'standing still' as an example of how the formula plays out, but, even as we shift our weight, change position, move, etc, those components shift with us. And....we should be changing our positions! "Good" posture is really being in healthy relationship with a multitude of circumstances! ~ G)