Why do some people move with grace and ease while others seem

weighed down by invisible forces?    The Answer is Alignment.

 

Our bodies are constantly battling gravity, stress, and strain, and proper alignment is your defense. It keeps you balanced, reducing wear and tear on your tissues and preventing injuries. But when you fall out of balance, the consequences can be severe. What throws you off, what does it cost you, and most importantly, how do you fix it? Read on to find out!

The Importance of Proper Alignment

Many of our clients think they were born clumsy or accident-prone or inherited bad posture and joints. Nothing could be further from the truth. Every Body Has a Story to Tell. Our bodies are designed to be Balanced and our Brains are hardwired for Bliss. Imbalance is not random, our imbalances are a solution to an underlying problem. The problem is that we have learned to adjust and adapt to our imbalances, which knocks us out of our natural alignment and well-being. We created the Align’d Approach to help get you back on track.

Your body is constantly responding to the forces of gravity but when our physical position relative to the pull of gravity is off-kilter, it causes unique deformations in the trillions of tiny cells that make up your body AND the space within and around them. Over time, poor alignment results in what we call “aged” posture – leaning, twisting, slouching, stiffening, and weakening of the body – leading to numerous health issues due to compression-induced inflammation.

Every structure in the body must maintain balanced forces to function optimally. In a closed system like the human body, too much pressure in one area results in a corresponding area of low pressure elsewhere. This imbalance is not random; it can be identified through careful assessment and measurement of high- and low-pressure areas. The Align’d Approach aims to regulate these pressures at both macro and microscopic levels, reflecting changes in posture through changes in tissues.

“For example, gravity is always working on your bones, but the load created by gravity differs depending on how those bones line up with the perpendicular force of gravity. A month of the horizontal positioning common to bedrest can decrease your muscle and bone mass. More precisely, the physical expression that is your body is the sum total of loads experienced by your cells. You are used to thinking of yourself as one big body, and not the sum total of many tiny parts. Every load is a unique cellular deformation.” —Katy Bowman

Maintaining Balance and Preventing Injury

When the body is properly aligned, it can support loads healthily, maintaining balance and resisting daily life’s stresses and strains. This reduces wear and tear on tissues, lowering the likelihood of injuries. Our bodies adapt to these loads by changing shape, stretching, and contracting when force is applied. This adaptability is explained by Hooke’s Law, which states that the deformation of an elastic object is directly proportional to the force applied to it.

At Align’d, this adaptability is referred to as “Bouncebackability.” It represents the body’s ability to return to its original shape after being stretched or compressed. However, excessive force can exceed the body’s capacity to adapt, leading to deformity or injury. This is similar to a tree limb that can bend to a point but eventually breaks under too much pressure.

When structures do get stretched beyond recovery, joints can no longer access all of their movement capacity, causing a loss of movement or what some refer to as “flexibility” and blame aging.

Enhancing Balance Through Upright Posture and Walking

As we walk, our eyes pick up visual information from our surroundings, and that is interpreted by the brain to help us maintain balance and keep from falling over. This feedback from the brain to the body helps regulate postural sway. Even in patients with quite severe walking disorders, the centre of mass velocity seems to be almost constant. Forward walking velocity is therefore essential to dynamic stability.

Forward walking velocity refers to the speed at which an individual walks in a forward direction. It is a measure of how quickly a person can move from one point to another while walking. This metric is commonly used in gait analysis, physical therapy, sports science, and various health assessments to evaluate a person’s mobility, balance, and overall physical function.

  1. Health Indicator: It can be an important indicator of overall health and functional ability, particularly in older adults. A decrease in walking speed may be associated with an increased risk of falls, functional decline, and mortality.
  2. Rehabilitation: In physical therapy and rehabilitation, measuring walking velocity helps track progress in patients recovering from injuries or surgeries.
  3. Sports Performance: For athletes, walking velocity can be a part of broader gait analysis to optimize performance and identify potential areas for improvement.
  4. Neurological Assessment: It can be used to assess the impact of neurological conditions like Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis on a person’s mobility.

Yet, another reason why we should walk more and get good at walking too, with our heads high and our feet pointing forward.

The Science Behind Body Balance

Imbalance is measurable and predictable. Everything in your body is in partnership; everything works together as a whole. When one area, joint or system has to take over, it gets overworked and the wheels fall off. We need balance in our life and our bodies so things don’t get pressurized and burnt out. To understand the importance of alignment, it’s essential to consider the principles of force distribution in the body. The human body is designed to balance forces efficiently, distributing pressure evenly across tissues and joints.  Every curve of our joints and cells provide stability to structures. When this balance is disrupted, through unresolved trauma and prolonged tension certain areas experience excessive pressure causing cells to break down, while others are underutilized and therefore tissues get weak. This imbalance can lead to pain, dysfunction, and injury.

Biomechanics is the study of the mechanical laws relating to the movement or structure of living organisms. Researchers have found that poor alignment affects the body’s ability to absorb and distribute forces, leading to increased wear and tear on tissues and joints as well as dysfunctional movement patterns. This can result in chronic pain, reduced mobility, and other health issues. Ironically, even when you feel off-balance, your body is constantly working to regain stability. in fact, your body’s structural priority is stability. Stability is a critical component of skillful movement and a requirement for agility and speed. In life, stability allows for the ability to stay balanced during times of change or turmoil 

How do we optimize the posture and movement of the foundation of our bodies? We start with a balanced foundation: the foot and the stance so we can activate and engage our core and postural muscles. We need to develop our own natural arch support by strengthening the musculature of the foot, which in turn will reactivate corresponding parts of the brain. You can also download Chapter 1 of our book for more tips.

Restoring Balance by Perfecting Posture

We have moved far away from nature’s design with compromised posture, mobility and ability that causes chronic detrimental form and positioning that harms us, preventing our healing. It’s our maladaptive responses to the external forces in other words our lifestyle that is generally counterproductive to health – insufficient or overly supportive footwear, indoor living, office work sitting all day (the new sport we like to call “desking”) only to come home exhausted and slouch on the couch all evening.

How do we create the proper shapes and positions to deal with these forces? We restructure from the ground up by a dynamic pattern of reflexes. Proper posture creates healthy articulation and communication in all the joints and soft tissues so it can work gracefully, with strength and endurance. Our experiences train our bodies how to function and adapt. Everything in your body is in partnership; everything works together as a whole. When one area, joint or system has to take over, it gets overworked and the wheels fall off.

 

It’s not the load that breaks you down. It’s the way you carry it.      —Lou Holtz

 

Posture is so important because it not only affects our physical health.  It can be an indication of our emotional well-being.  Body language is such an important part of communication and you may be conveying unintentional messages by slouching, leaning or having a hand on your hip just to help hold yourself up.  At best you look tired at worst you look ticked off or even disengaged and with any relationship work or personal it can have dire consequences.

Contrary to popular belief, poor posture is NOT a sign of aging that you are doomed to have and cope with! It is a sign of dysfunction, unresolved trauma, and injury and the resulting compensatory patterns that you can change.

Most experts agree that ideal posture is characterized by the alignment of the body so that torques and stresses are minimized and less energy is expended meaning that you feel less tired at the end of the day.

Forward head carriage is one of the most common postural deviations seen in society.  According to Renee Calliet, M.D., if the head weighs 10lbs and the center of the ear sits directly over the center of the shoulder, the load on the spine and its tissue is only 10lbs.

  • For every inch the head is translated forward, its weight will increase by 10 lbs. In effect, if the center of the ear is three inches forward from the center of the shoulders, the weight of the head on the spine and its discs, joints and nerves is 30lbs.!
  • Forward head posture leads to chronic pain, numbness in the arms and hands, improper breathing, pinched nerves, and spinal remodeling.
  • Not only does asthma and heart disease often begin in your neck, but so does your brain health.
  • Posture has an impact on feelings of stress, mood, memory, and even behavior.

A 2010 study conducted in Brazil examined posture and body image in people comparing healthy volunteers to participants with major depressive disorder. Researchers found that patients’ head forward posture was more pronounced as was their negative body image during episodes of depression.  They also spoke more negative and fewer positive words.  However, those with proper upright posture reported higher self-esteem, more arousal, better mood, and lower fear. Researchers concluded that good posture in the face of stress maintains self-esteem, improves mood, increases rate of speech and reduces self-focus. Meanwhile, poor posture actually resulted in more stress, potentially leading to chronic stress.

Neuroscientist, Beatrice Gelder, studied how we habitually hold and move ourselves in ways that, “serve social and emotional needs, or avoid clashing with them”. In her research, she observed that various imbalanced patterns of muscular tension and postural tone were connected to the participants’ symptoms and that resolving these ingrained abnormal patterns often alleviated their symptoms, triggers, and ailments unexpectedly.

 

Fun Fact: The ability to balance for at least 20 seconds on one leg is the sign of a healthy brain, so start practicing!

 

Postural muscles physically have the highest endurance of all muscles of the body. So, if we want to have energy throughout the day and perform at our peaks, we have to engage these postural muscles.

We can now measure movement and posture in a fresh new light with insights galore, as these measurements are consistent across all cultures and ages, and can therefore be translated into valuable information. It becomes our universal language. Now you can reset and realign your posture and movement to unlock your human potential.  Hopefully, by now, you can understand how the term posture is physical and emotional, it refers to how we hold our bodies, as well as the overall physical form of an individual, and your body language.

Your posture affects how others see and interact with you—not to mention how you see yourself. Communication of information in our body is expressed and conducted through posturing and movement patterns. Psychologist and Harvard professor Amy Cuddy discovered that standing in a posture of confidence (“power pose”) changes your biochemistry; it influences hormone levels (testosterone and cortisol) in the brain, even when the subject doesn’t feel confident initially.

 

Practical Strategies for Maintaining Alignment at Home

Achieving and maintaining proper alignment requires a combination of awareness, exercise, and lifestyle changes. Here are some practical strategies to help you stay aligned:

Posture Awareness: Pay attention to your posture throughout the day. Make a conscious effort to sit and stand with your shoulders back, chest open, and spine neutral. Use mirrors or ask for feedback to check your alignment.

Ergonomic Adjustments: Ensure your work environment supports good posture. Adjust your chair, desk, and computer monitor to promote a neutral spine position.

Stretching and Flexibility: Incorporate regular stretching into your routine to maintain flexibility and prevent muscles from becoming tight and shortened. Focus on areas prone to tightness, such as the hamstrings, hip flexors, and chest muscles.

Strengthening Exercises: Strengthen the muscles that support good posture, particularly the core, back and glutes. Include exercises like planks, rows, and squats in your workout routine.

Movement Breaks: Take frequent breaks from prolonged sitting or standing to move and your body. This helps to prevent stiffness and promotes blood circulation.

Mind Set Practices: Engage in activities that promote body awareness and alignment, such as meditation or prayer

The Align’d Approach: Regulating Pressures

The Align’d Approach focuses on regulating internal pressures to maintain proper alignment and balance. By assessing and measuring high- and low-pressure areas in the body, practitioners can identify imbalances and develop strategies to correct them. This involves a combination of techniques, including posture correction exercises, targeted stretching, and strengthening routines.

At both the macro and microscopic levels, changes in tissues reflect changes in posture. For example, tight muscles and shortened connective tissues can pull the body out of alignment, while weak muscles may fail to provide adequate support. By addressing these issues, the Align’d Approach helps to restore balance and prevent further deformation.

Conclusion

Maintaining proper alignment is essential for overall health and well-being. An aligned body can withstand the forces of gravity, stresses, and strains more effectively, preventing deformation and reducing the risk of injuries. By understanding the principles of force distribution and tissue adaptability, we can take practical steps to achieve and maintain alignment.

The Align’d Approach offers a comprehensive strategy for regulating internal pressures and promoting balance at both macro and microscopic levels. Through posture awareness, ergonomic adjustments, stretching, strengthening, and mind-body practices, we can help enhance our body’s resilience and Bouncebackability.

Remember, small changes in posture and alignment can have a significant impact on your health. By prioritizing alignment and taking proactive steps to maintain it, you can improve your quality of life and reduce the burden of being out of balance.

For more tips and strategies

check out our book

The Align’d Approach: Unlock Your

Ultimate High Performance Capacity

HERE

 

 

 

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References:

Canales, J., et al. Posture and body image in individuals with major depressive disorder: a controlled study. Braz J Psychiatry. 2010 Dec;32(4):375-80. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21308258/
Gelder, Beatrice et al, The perception of emotion in body expressions, WIREs Cognitive Science, 22 December 2014 https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1335
Koźlenia, D. et al.   Prediction and injury risk based on movement patterns and flexibility in a 6-month prospective study among physically active adults. Peer J. 2021 May 18. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8139277/

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