Thursday, December 24, 2015

Posture, Alignment, and First Thoughts for Phase 6

Side view. This is the more telling one.
I'm trying to figure out my posture here. The pictures
are surprising and a bit vexing. Front view.
I saw an article the other day on stretches and exercises to correct posture problems. The article is called "Posture Power: How To Correct Your Body's Alignment" by Kendall Lou Schmidt. You can find it here. It includes photographs of a woman with excellent posture then shows her exaggerating a series of posture problems. For each of the problems, the article talks about which muscles are over-active (or overly tight and need stretching) and which are under-active (and need strengthening exercises). 

I feel as though I have really bad posture, so I had Patrick take some pictures of me while we were at the gym the other day. I was not consciously trying to Stand With Good Posture when he took these. In fact, I jumped in place a couple of times to get myself set naturally. 

According to the article the ears, shoulders, hips and heels should line up. (Actually that's what the text says but not at all what the pictures show, which I find a little annoying.)  The pictures are more informative in that regard than the text, so please go look at the article.  In the side-view picture, the middle of the woman's ears line up with the front of her shoulders. That same line goes through what is probably the ball and socket joint of her hips (maybe a bit behind it, I'm not entirely sure where the joint is inside the body). Her knees are well behind the line and her ankles even more so.

Prior to looking at these pictures of me, I would have said that I have rounded/slumped shoulders and my neck thrusts forward from my shoulders (leaving my head sitting on my neck at a somewhat awkward angle which leads to neck strain). I've always thought I had an excessive  curve in the lower back (my butt sticks out). (Momma calls this "sway back" but the article uses "sway back" for almost the opposite problem.) For most of my life I was terribly pigeon-toed. For several years, my head tilted to one side.

Looking at the pictures, I don't appear to have the butt-sticking-out problem that I thought I have. I also don't appear (at this juncture) to be nearly as pigeon-toed as I used to be. There's a bit of a hint of it in the side view, but not much. I don't appear to have a tilt in my head. I don't think I'm going to worry about those. 

The picture of the woman in the grey tank top (snipped from the article utterly without permission -- so seriously read the article ) shows what they call "Upper Cross Syndrome". The pictures in the article are exaggerated, so the match isn't going to be perfect, but compare it to my side view, below. The angle of my neck is similar. And the round in the top of my back isn't nearly as bad, but there is a definite curve there. 

The "Rounded Shoulders" and "Forward Head" pictures aren't as close a match as this one. You can check the article to see (I don't want to copy more of their pictures). 

I'd appreciate anyone taking a look at my pictures and the article and seeing if there's something I'm missing. Or if there's something I'm seeing that isn't there. 

In the absence of other thoughts, I'm going with the "Upper Cross Syndrome" idea. What the article says is: 

Overactive muscles: Trapezius, levator scapula, pectoralis major and minor, neck extensors (the back of your neck, traps, upper back, and chest)
Stretches: Neck self-myofascial release, chin to chest, front-delt stretch, elbows-back stretch, chest stretch on stability ball, dynamic chest stretch, chair upper-body stretch
Underactive muscles: Rotator cuff, lower trapezius, rhomboids, serratus anterior, and deep neck flexors (muscles in the back surrounding the shoulder blades, rear delts, and in front of the neck)
Strengthening exercises: Isometric front-neck exercise, seated cable row, back fly with band, shoulder external rotation, rear-delt row
 I honestly don't feel like I have *any* overactive muscles in my upper body. It helps if I just think of them as *tight*.  I can definitely add some of these stretches to my post workout routine -- thought I need to look them up. I can also work some rows and shoulder rotations into my Phase 6 workouts. Maybe even a back fly.

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