Friday, September 20, 2019

Beware of the X Posture

Bad posture (Photo by Patti Reed)

Bad posture (Photo by Patti Reed)

One of the most common postural distortions is an exaggerated sway back curve in the lower back, a frozen mid-back, (frozen into a hump), followed by a forward head.

Aha – I see a pattern here! This is the same posture encouraged by the person who designed the car seat. That’s how common it is!

If we take a closer look at this common problem, we can see in the first photo, the body is pulled slightly forward in the bend area by the front of the hip. This is a tight hip flexor problem. Too much sitting, and not enough proper stretching, can cause this.

As we move up towards the lower back, to compensate for the tight hip flexor and because our bodies are trying to find neutral and stand upright,  we jam and ultimately tighten the low back.
 
This is the first line of our  ‘X’, the tightness line, only one of many  individual postural distortions.

 Our second line is the Glute or commonly known as our butt. It’s the opposing  muscle to the hip flexor; if the hip flexor is tight, the Glute can’t fire correctly. This also accounts for tightness in the lower back. If the butt isn’t doing its job, we end up using our back to compensate for our weak Glutes!

This brings us to the last part of our ‘X’: the weak abdominal muscles. The opposing muscles to the lower back are the abdominals. If the lower back is jammed up and tight, we can’t access  the abs to balance out the over-use of the  lower back.
 
So there it is: tight hip flexors and tight low back; weak Glutes and abdominals: that’s our ‘X’.
 
What usually ends up happening above that point at the mid-back and neck is usually just a compensation up the line from what’s happening below it. Our bodies are just looking for balance, however they can find it. In addition to not looking too attractive,

Good posture (Photo by Patti Reed)

Good posture (Photo by Patti Reed)

it’s very dysfunctional and hard on our bodies. The health of our discs is compromised,  our hip joints can wear out, our organs are compressed, and then pain sets in.

A common  problem I encounter with my clients is when the pain comes  they go to the gym to work out to make the pain go away.( I did that myself years ago, and that’s why I do what I do now!) Good for us for being so pro-active and doing what we feel is taking responsibility for ourselves.

Unfortunately, what I have found for myself and others is until we have an understanding of what the heck our bodies are really doing and we address the tightness first, through some type of structural massage and learn self- release techniques to practice at home, we can’t even begin to access the weak muscles. When the tight muscles are dominant and override a weak muscle, we end up tightening in to what’s already tight.

To begin to correct  the ‘X’ posture we need to learn (with the guidance of a trained professional) deep releases done through the abdomen to lengthen the spine using inflatable balls, followed by proper release techniques and alignment for lengthening the hip flexors from the hip joint This  relieves tightness in the low back and hip area. Along with releasing areas in the  low back itself, through using the inflatable balls, I have found this works the quickest and the best for a home maintenance program.

The last  step after releasing dominant tightness is re-educating the mind and body to new, more functional patterns. By strengthening the weak Glute and abdominal (not with crunches!) starting with easy, but challenging, exercises this allows the  weaker muscle to regain much-needed strength to help balance the body for a happier and healthier life.

Patti Reed, a certified Yamuna practitioner, may be reached at All 4 fitness, Inc., 832 Anchor Rode Dr., Naples, at (239) 530-0814, or www.all4fitnessnaples.com.

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