Let’s start a new year with practical steps to a better alignment.
Better Alignment – Unattainable Dream or a Realistic Goal?
- Did you have a chance to self-evaluate your posture?
- Did you notice many deviations from the ideal or decided you were in a good shape?
- Have you started wondering how to get a better alignment?
Deep down inside, you must realize that a quick fix does not exist. It may be hard to accept, but there is no massage, physical therapy, surgery, or chiropractor visits that are going to restore the upright posture FOR you.
While those methods play an important role, the only person who can improve YOUR alignment is YOU.
As long as you are armed with two things: knowledge and motivation.
Knowledge will show you WHAT to do for a better alignment.
Motivation will come if you know:
- WHY you are doing it; and
- HOW this effort can be incorporated into your busy life.
Make no mistake – it will be a lifelong journey. The payback will be huge though. With a better alignment, you will live longer and your life quality will improve.
If you are ready for this journey, let’s figure out:
- WHY do you need a better alignment?
- WHAT can you do to achieve it?
- HOW to incorporate new habits into your busy life?
WHY Do You Need a Better Alignment?
We should distinguish between these reasons:
- You live in chronic pain. Physical therapy, acupuncture, or chiropractor visits do not bring a long-lasting relief. You either live with your pain, or rely heavily on painkillers.
- You used to move much more: walking, hiking, running, or playing sports used to be fun and enjoyable.
It is not a case anymore:
- You played basketball with your kids and your shoulder hurts.
- You went for a hike and your knee is killing you.
- You went to a gym and now you are in pain because your back cannot handle it.
Any additional activity becomes dangerous so you avoid it.
- You don’t like the way you look. You know your posture is bad but you don’t know how to improve it.
You even went to a gym or tried working with a personal trainer. All you achieved was musculoskeletal pain (see above). The “no pain – no gain” approach did not work.
Whatever the reason is, you cannot eliminate your musculoskeletal pain, restore lost function, or improve your posture without getting a better alignment first.
WHAT To Do For a Better Alignment?
The course of action will slightly differ depending on whether you have a chronic pain and what is your pain level.
IF you a have a significant chronic pain that affects the way you function, you need to deal with the pain first. It is always wise to see you doctor, just to be sure you don’t have a major health issue. If the only recommendation you got was to take Ibuprofen or Tylenol, you need to do your research:
- You can look into the Egoscue Pain Free Method, or check out Katy Bowman site.
- You can see whether posture therapy is available near you live.
- You can visit a chiropractor, or try acupuncture and/ or myofascial release.
- You can explore healing power of herbs and/or homeopathy.
Sometimes the combination of different methods works better than a single one.
IF you are simply “normally misaligned” and have no serious pain issues, these are the steps you can begin with:
- Do your posture assessment.
- Analyze what’s causing your misalignment.
- Start changing your current habits.
- Stick to your new habits.
Analyze What May be Causing YOUR Misalignment
To make it short, these are the major reasons:
- Shoes we all wear. Whether you have foot pain or not, ALL commercial footwear is bad for your alignment.
To learn more, watch this: Natural Foot Wisdom with Podiatrist Dr. Ray McClanahan.
- Environment that is not conducive to functional movement. For example, sitting too much and moving too little.
- Lack of good posture examples around us. Misalignment became a norm and we don’t notice it anymore.
- Trauma you had at some point due to a fall, a car accident, or sports injury. You had to go easy on some part of your body and gradually it became a norm. Your brain is now wired to use one side of the body more than another.
Notice, I did not mention the age. It only plays a role in terms of how long you were misusing your body. Age does not cause misalignment on its own.
Change your current habits
If you want to get a better alignment you need to start paying attention to your current habits. You need to gradually change the way you stand, sit, and move. I am going to help you with this by giving you weekly posture tips.
Stick to your new habits
It takes time to develop a new habit. The only way to do it is to stick to it.
Again, the weekly tips I am going to give you don’t take much time. If you practice them you will succeed.
HOW to incorporate new habits into your busy life?
You can do something new only if it does not require too much time and effort. Each week I will be giving you a new SMALL task.
If it’s not overwhelming, you’ll be more motivated to practice it.
This week, you are going to make a small adjustment to the way your position your feet.
Let’s work, what are you waiting for?
You are going to start with your feet. Why feet?
- They are your “foundation”.
- They are providing the surface you walk on.
- You cannot achieve a better alignment if your feet are misaligned.
If you live in a modern world your feet are already negatively affected by:
- The shoes you wear.
- The surfaces you walk on.
- The meager amount of daily walking.
When you did your feet evaluation, where were your feet pointing?
Did they look similar to this?
The more your feet turned out, the more your foot lands on the outside of your feet and ends on the big toe knuckle. Have you been wondering how bunions are created?
Look your feet as a mechanism. Everted feet means you are loading it in the position it was not meant to be:
- Occasional incorrect loading will not hurt your feet. Our body has an amazing adaptation ability to withstand such occurrences.
- Permanently keeping the weight of your body above the feet that are not parallel will ruin your foot mechanism.
Add wrong shoes shape and heels, we’ve got a perfect recipe for foot pronation, hammer toes, plantar fasciosis, bunions, and other foot issues.
Take your socks off and learn how to position your feet correctly while barefoot.
Correct feet position means “feet parallel, hip-width apart”. It is correct from bio-mechanical perspective because only this position allows for:
- Proper ankle joint position, and
- The correct heel-to-toe gait cycle.
This is what parallel feet look like:
Align the outside of the feet, not the insides.
Your toes WILL feel pigeon-toed. You walked with feet pointed out for such a long time, it will need time to get used to a new position.
“Hip-width apart” means your ankles should be on one vertical line with ASIS points. Those are the bony protrusions on the left and right sides of your pelvis:
Practice it whenever you remember. It may feel strange first. The more you practice, the more automatic it will become.
If you want to learn more about your feet mechanics, please go to the library and read this Katy Bowman’s book: “Every Woman’s Guide to Foot Pain Relief. The New Science of Healthy Feet”. This is a book everybody should read, whether you are a male or a female, whether you have a foot pain or not.
Next week, you will learn an exercise for a better alignment of your pelvis.
Be Upright. Be Happy. Live Pain Free.
Learn how YOU can restore your posture at my Upright Posture Fitness Studio in Hudson, MA