Posture: The Straight Up Facts

Last week, I was lucky enough to receive a posture session at MyPTstudio from postural alignment therapist, personal trainer and good friend, Ben Thompson.

After just one week of following my specially tailored posture menu, I’m already seeing vast improvement in my alignment, gait and stability. The ‘what’ (i.e. the benefit) is pretty clear. However, being a personal trainer, research obsessive and insatiably curious about all things fitness, I also like to know the ‘why’. Ben has kindly allowed me to grill him on the subject, so both feet on the floor, sit up straight, relax the shoulders and read on for an expert education in posture therapy…
 

What makes Egoscue different to other types of physical therapy or flexibility training?

Nowadays, people tend to see a therapist when they want ‘fixing’.

We are a generation accustomed to and generally expecting to be cracked, manipulated, massaged and pricked into being pain free. Ultimately, we end up relying on a therapist for relief whenever our symptoms flare up. Egoscue gives the client’s body back to them, teaches them body awareness and empowers them to fix themselves.

As the therapist my job is to guide and educate the client In front of me as to the root causes of their pain. I look at the client’s body as a unit and assess the ankles, knees, hips and shoulders and then create a bespoke plan of specific exercises that rebalance the client’s body at a neuromuscular level, restoring function and reducing pain.

The client leaves the session with a free online account and a menu of exercises, meaning they don’t need me if symptoms flare up – they have all the tools required to relieve themselves of pain. This is both powerful and empowering.

When it comes to ‘flexibility’ I believe the position of a joint will affect the range of movement of all the muscles connected to that joint, therefore that someone’s posture will have an impact on their ‘flexibility’.

Here are two examples:

1. If you stand up and twist and rotate from your upper back, you have lots of movement. However, if you hunch your back forward, roll your shoulders down and then twist again, you have less movement.

2. If someone has a very posterior (backward) tilt to their pelvis, this will affect the range of movement in the hamstrings. It won’t really matter how much you stretch those hamstrings, they will always struggle to regain full range of movement until the individual addresses the posterior tilt at the pelvis.

In my experience, both with my clients and myself, Egoscue has a dramatic effect on range of movement without necessarily having to ‘stretch’ in the conventional sense.
 

I came to you knowing that my posture could do with some improving and we established that was very much the case! For the benefit (and amusement) of my readers, can you list the multitude of things that were wrong with me?

Before I begin with this I just want everyone to know (including you) that there is nothing wrong with you! I have never met anyone with perfect posture because quite frankly it doesn’t exist! Saying that however, it is important that we don’t let our posture slip to the point where it begins causing too much stress on the body – especially if we are exercising regularly and training hard, which I know you and many of your readers do. For example, if you have an elevated hip and you’re squatting, it means you’re loading that hip and the muscles connected to it unevenly, creating an imbalance.

So without further ado, here were our key findings from the assessment:

Flat feet
Valgus stress
Medially rotated patellae
Left hip elevation
Left shoulder elevation
Head tilt to the left
Everted feet
Rotated right hip
Rotated left shoulder
Anterior pelvis
Rounded shoulders
Forward lean
Head forward of shoulders
Balance towards the front of the feet

The majority of these postural deviations were corrected within the first session meaning that your gym training will now be more efficient, as you’ll be loading your joints and muscles evenly. This can improve strength, stability and power and of course improve your aesthetics!
 

As you pointed out to me during our session, posture is subconscious: ideally, we shouldn’t have to think about having good posture, it should come naturally. If a client follows their posture menu regularly and accurately, what’s the typical timeframe for a subconscious improvement in posture to occur?

In the first session!

Using you as an example, we brought your hip and shoulder elevation down, your everted feet to neutral, took your hip and shoulder rotation out and made you feel ‘balanced’. This was visible with you standing perfectly relaxed and within an hour.

Some postural deviations may take a little more work but the more you perform your menu of exercises the more function you will restore. It’s a powerful method!
 

In 25 words, why is Egoscue something we could all benefit from?

Your posture affects every system in your body, including the musculoskeletal, digestive, lymphatic, circulatory and nervous systems. Why wouldn’t you want to use it?
 

So now I understand the ‘why’ and it’s pretty cool stuff!

So much so that I’d like to attain an Egoscue certificate myself sometime in the future. But in the meantime, I’ll be booking in for regular posture check-ups with Ben, referring my clients, friends and family to him and generally trying to spread perfect alignment far and wide!

To book a postural alignment assessment with Ben, visit his website at Transitionpt.co.uk, or contact him on Twitter @Benthompsonpt.

To learn more about training at MyPTstudio, pay a visit to myptstudio.co.uk.

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