Support for Good Posture

How Your Environment Supports Structural Health and Good Posture (Or Not)

You have sought out Rolfing SI before. You know about the importance of alignment in your body and you may remember the thrill of finding it – that moment when things suddenly seem to line up – all by themselves - and the body feels effortlessly buoyant.

Like all magic moments, this sensation can be fleeting. It requires ongoing nourishment to unfold its magic, again and again. In an ideal world, day to day movement will provide nourishment for a well-aligned body. In the real world, however, all too often we do not get to move around as much as we would like; we have a desk job, we drive long hours, we have a thousand responsibilities. The time before the holidays can sometimes make this painfully obvious.

If you do not have the time right now to work on the alignment of your body – whether with tune-up sessions or conscious movement and exercise – how about making your life easier? How about tinkering with your environment?

How about setting the things around you up in such a way that your body is supported rather than challenged?

There are many little things you can do in your environment that will make it easier for your body to maintain or approximate an easy upright posture. Here are some ideas:

If you work on a keyboard all day, do you have a silicone support to rest your forearms on? Do you have one when you use your mouse?

Are you possibly, just possibly, even on a laptop?! – The amount of stretching, movement and bodywork you would need to counter regular laptop-time is beyond my wildest dreams! – So, if you regularly work on a laptop, get yourself a plugin keyboard/-mat, put the laptop on a stack of books (or some other way at eye-level) and keep the keyboard low, so you do not have to hold up your hands (and by association usually the shoulders).

Too many hours at a desk? – Do you remember how pulling the sitbones back and sitting in front of the sitbones automatically created a natural lumbar curve and brought your upper body out of the slouch? (If this does not even ring a bell, I’d say it’s time to come for a tune-up in the new year, but until then:)

A wobbly disk allows you to easily sit with a natural lumbar curve.

If you cannot easily keep your position in front of the sitbones, maintaining your lumbar curve without effort, chances are your hamstrings are not receiving the benefit of regular stretching. And if, right now, you do not have the time to stretch – how about getting yourself an inflatable disk to sit on? – These disks can be put on pretty much any chair and will allow you to tilt your pelvis just a bit, thus supporting the natural lumbar curve of your spine, even if your hamstrings are, well, a bit too short.

(They can be found on amazon if you search for ‘wobble disk.’)

Keeping mobility in the hip joints is one of the most important things you can do for the agility of your body. However, some clothes can make this tricky at best. Unless you want to make a conscious effort to wiggle your way into appropriate hip-joint flexion every time you sit down, make your life easier by wearing something that stretches or has enough room to actually allow your hip joints to flex. Otherwise, your low back will be forced to compensate for the lack of mobility in the hips – and your disks will absorb the pressure. Clothes alone are not going to do the back-saving trick of course, but in a pinch (time or money-wise), they can surely extend the longevity of any improvements from bodywork. You’d be surprised how much our clothing shapes our movement.

If you read on a tablet or the phone, hold it high. Prop the device, prop your hand, and stop looking down at the screen, any screen. – Think of it this way: If you look down at the device in your hand, your head will be in front of your plumbline rather than balanced on top of your neck. Your neck and upper back muscles will have to contract to hold the weight of your head – a considerable 10-12 lb. Do you want to load your neck with 12 lb of extra holding, even for 5 min?

In the car a lot? – Can you sit well in your car? – with sitbones back, an easy lumbar curve, and hands resting on the wheel? If that’s tricky, try rolling up a towel and putting it right behind the top of your sacrum (the top of your gluteal muscles, approximately) so that your lumbar curve is supported. Use a wedge or another folded towel to make the back of the seat-area high enough to not let you sink into a slouch.

Take mini-breaks. Breathe out.

And enjoy your Holidays, one moment at a time.

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