🎶 “The back bone's connected to the neck bone, The neck bone's connected to the head bone, Now shake dem skeleton bones!”
Yep...we can pretty much always rely on kids’ songs to simplify facts for us! 😅 Such truth though...it’s all connected and everything acts upon something else. The breath needs movement of the ribs and extends the spine when inhaling and flexes it when exhaling. What happens at the feet is driven by the hips and the knee is the victim when things go awry. When the pelvic floor and diaphragm harmonize along with the deep abs we have synergistic breathing! When the big toe presses into the ground as you “fall forward” when taking a step (gait cycle) it creates a reaction where the arch of the foot lifts and prepares the foot to become a rigid lever to propel you forward.
I mean, we are definitely more than the sum of our parts but…having all the parts in place to participate is key to having fun in movement! (Because painful movement is no fun at all!)
In previous blogs we’ve touched on proprioception and breath and now let’s take a peek at alignment.
~First, feet...our foundation...connecting point with the Ground!
Stand on the 1st and 5th toe metatarsals and heel...evenly weighted on both feet.
( I know, I know I skipped the knees…they will typically align when above hip and below foot are in their optimal placement…consider them middle child :).
While standing, put the palm of your hand on either hip bone (ASIS) and your pointer fingers on pubic bone. A “neutral” pelvis position has the hip bones directly aligned with the pubic bone. Now “tuck your tail” like a bad dog…that’s posterior tilt as hip bones are posterior or behind the pubic bone and if your arch your lower back you’ll feel your hip bones going forward or anterior tilt. Same if lying down or seated. Why so important…because about 45 muscles connect at the pelvis and so a myriad of opportunities for these “guy wires” to pull the pelvis and/or spine into wonky (read inefficient) positions that over time create imbalances and eventually possible joint damage/breakdown/replacement. Keep in mind that “neutral” has its nuances (because you are one of a kind unique!) and it’s a general default or rest position that we move in and out of all day long.
~And the thoracic spine…
the 12 ribs that attach to it form our rib cage that protects our hard working organs…it’s easiest to find the 10th rib as our “bony marker”. If you poke or palpate around you’ll find one sticking out on either side. Place your hands on the 10th rib and take a deep breath and notice how it elevates and then when exhaling and adding a cough for emphasis your feel them “disappearing” into your abdomen as the diaphragm drags them back in and up. That position of the ribs “disappeared” will take tension off your thoracic spine and if you also think “lift my heart” you’ll have a neutral” thoracic spine. Anyone who’s sat at a computer for a minute knows the feeling of “collapse” as the T spine gives in to gravity. Notice how your eyes keep looking ahead regardless…and makes your neck a very unhappy camper.
~For the love of the Neck...reach the crown of your head to the sky...aaaahhh.
So, yes this is simplified and there’s much more and we’re not robots or marching soldiers adhering to a rigid posture. But…just like when you know what’s in your (organized) tool box/make up bag/sewing kit/bike repair kit you’re better equipped to get to the job…same with posture. It puts the tools (muscles/connective tissue) in place to go to work for you as efficiently and sustainable as possible with the least amount of chance for breakdown.And...once it becomes a habit...you don't even have to think about it!!
Stay tuned as we keep breaking this down and I’ll give you some simple drills to do "on the Spot" to weave into your everyday living. Because homework needs to be do-able.
Because “we don’t rise up to the level of our goals…we fall to the level of our systems and habits.”