The body is amazing. It is able to adapt to whatever you throw at it. If you throw movement at it, it will adapt. But on the other hand, if you throw inactivity at it, it will adapt to that too.
The body is an energy conservation machine. That means that it will try to execute a task with as little amount of energy as possible. This has a couple of consequences that I see everyday in clients that come in for a postural alignment visit.
Quality of movement
Many of us don’t get enough movement of good quality. What is good quality movement? For now, let’s settle on this definition: Quality movement is movement where the joints go through their full range of motion. Ideally you want to put the hip joint through extension, flexion, abduction, adduction, internal and external rotation. You want to put the spine through flexion, extension, lateral flexion (sideways movement) and rotation – to the left and to the right.
Since we often don’t put our joints through these ranges of motion during our daily activities, we need to do it purposely, for example by doing posture therapy exercises.
Variety of movement and repetitive tasks
Another aspect is variety and symmetry of movement, or repetitive tasks. I have many clients that have jobs that ask their bodies to perform asymmetric activities. For example there is a young farmer that, in order to milk the cows at the farm he works at, has to twist his body to the same side continually. Another client is a massage therapist for horses. She also has to stand a certain way to massage a horse.
If your work is repetitive and asymmetrical, you have to compensate by doing some work on the other side. There are plenty of good exercises to do that, we just have to find the one that your body needs and likes the most. My horse massage therapist client now does some exercises in between massaging horses, to prevent her from developing issues due to the asymmetric nature of her work.
Desk workers live in the box
Finally I want to mention desk work. Most of us, when we sit at our desks, confine ourselves to a ‘box’ of 3 x 3 x 3 feet, in front of us. Our arms never go up higher than that, we are hunched forward and our head is forward of our shoulders. As a result, the body adapts as it “thinks” this is the posture we want to develop. So we have to give the body a different message to counter this. The amazing thing about the body is, that even with the amount of sitting that we do, if we augment that with just 5-20 minutes of exercises, we can get away with it!
But, these exercises have to be high quality movement exercises. That is why, when we analyze your posture, we look for what’s missing in your day to day activity and how your body has adapted to that, and how we can get your body functioning again the way it should, restoring the range of motion of your joints. Your body will thank you!