Base-Line Healing logo. Stick figure with arms outstretched above shoulder height, legs apart. Rainbow of colours up midline. Red at pelvic floor Base then a line of orange, yellow, green blue extending to the head. Showing the body aligned and balanced, the natural way to treat fibromyalgia.Use your body better slogan.

Posture

Posture means the position of your body.

  • All of it.
  • At any time.

With a good posture the body is well-positioned and comfortable.

A bad posture increases postural stresses. Too much stress results in damaged tissues and pain.

So what is a good posture?

A go-ogle search for "good posture" returns lots of results (and side-view illustrations) but no clear winner in the definition department:

Standing up tall. No slouching when sitting.

The relative positioning of the head and joints.

The correct curvature of a neutral spine.

Alignment of various parts of the body.

i.e. A lot of talk about the skeletal system and the position of the spine, head and joints. But there is a lack of emphasis on what positions our bones, on what creates our posture - muscles and connective tissues.

Connective Tissues & Posture.

Connective tissues run through the whole of the body, from head to fingers to toes.

connective tissue

When physical restrictions are present within connective tissues our range of movement is reduced. The whole body must adapt to compensate when restrictions are present, negatively affecting posture - our positioning becomes less than ideal.

physical restrictions

Restricted connective tissues contribute to poor posture.

Muscles & Posture.

Muscles are the body's 'tissues of action', capable of moving our bones and joints into a better position to create a better posture.

Posture can be:

  • Passive posture. The positioning of your body when you're not thinking about it. The brain operating muscles at a subconscious level.
  • Active posture. Conscious thought about "how you are holding yourself". Using voluntary muscles under voluntary control to improve your positioning. (All skeletal muscles have the potential to be under voluntary control).

Posture can be improved by consciously working with the right muscles for a sufficient length of time so that an active posture becomes the passive norm.

Muscles adjust the positioning of our bones and joints.

Using the right muscles will improve your posture.

Working with the right muscles facilitates the release of physical restrictions in connective tissues. Releasing restrictions regains movement and allows posture to be further improved. An ongoing process.

The Main Muscles for a Better Posture.

The muscles we should focus on using to improve posture are the five main muscles of movement:

  1. pelvic floor
  2. rectus abdominis
  3. gluteus maximus
  4. rectus femoris
  5. trapezius

the 5 main muscles of movement

skeleton with the main muscles of movement. Back and side-front views.  The pelvic floor muscles can't be seen from these two perspectives. The rectus abdominis from pelvis to chest. The rectus femoris from hip to shin down the front of each thigh.  The trapezius from mid-back to the back of the head, extending out towards each shoulder like a kite-shaped muscle over the upper back. The gluteus maximus, big ass muscles at the back of the pelvis.

These 5 (paired, left and right) muscles provide the central framework for a comfortable body and are the muscles we should focus on using for a better posture.

When fully functional, and the body is free of physical restrictions, the 5 main muscles of movement allow the head, spine and limbs to be in the correct relative positions.

skeleton and the main muscles of movement shown from the front demonstrating how they align the body by arranging our midline anatomy on the median plane. The rectus abdominis muscles when fully extended and engaged straighten the linea alba our primary guide for body alignment. The spine, shoulders, hips and knees are all in the correct relative positions and the body is balanced left and right sides.

The body is balanced and aligned. Posture is good.

body alignment and balance

Self-Assessment of Posture.

Sensory feedback from the body supplies more information about your posture than can be provided by other means. Becoming aware of this sensory information is the basis of conscious proprioception(our sense of position, motion and balance that is the connection between body and mind).

conscious proprioception

outline of human figure seen from the front. Showing the network of nerves throughout the body. The central nervous system consisting of the spinal cord and brain.  A web of smaller nerves from the extremities feeding into larger nerves, transmitting the sensory information about the body's position, motion and balance which is processed for our sense of proprioception. Conscious proprioception is when we experience this sensory feedback our body has for us. Seeing the sparkles, feeling the position of the body relative to base-line, instinctively knowing where our natural range of movement should take us.

Increased awareness of your sense of propriocpetion allows you to assess your posture for yourself.

Self-assessment facilitates self-correction of posture. Micro-adjustments in positioning, too subtle to appreciate on clinical exam, can have wide effects throughout the body (everything's connected) which can be felt when the body-mind connection is strong.

Working with the 5 main muscles of movement starts from Base-Line: pelvic floor Base, rectus abdominis Line.

Base-Line muscles

human figure seen from the front, looking up the body with the baseline muscles shown.  The pelvic floor muscles forming a basket at the base of the body.  The solid foundation from where the rectus abdominis muscles extend. The rectus abdominis muscles are like to 2 parallel stacks of panels of muscle that go up the front of the abdomen from base to mid chest. The body's core pillar of strength either side of the linea alba the body's baseline for alignment.

Think of your Base-Line as your 'core pillar of strength' from where the rest of the body extends.

Working from Base-Line increases awareness of the relative positioning of our midline anatomy, the reference for body alignment and balance.

5 midline markers

Connecting with your Base-Line will develop your sense of conscious proprioception, allowing you to adjust your positioning and improve posture.

Become more aware of how you use your main muscles of movement (whatever you are doing and whatever position you are in) to assess and improve your posture. It takes time and focus to learn to use the right muscles and improve your posture, little by little improvements are made.

Find your Base-Line.

Feel for yourself.

Posture & Movement.

Posture isn't static - we are constantly on the move, and a good posture means we can move well, free and unrestricted, through a full range of natural movement.

full range natural movement

Explore your range of movement, supported by your Base-Line muscles and feel for balance between left and right sides of the other main muscles of movement.

The roll-down action was my go-to move as I focused on activating and extending my Base-Line. Do whatever feels right to you. The more you work with your main muscles the more progress you will make.

the roll-down

Learning to use the right muscles brings an understanding of what a good posture is. The body feels strong and comfortable. Movement flows easily through a full range of natural movement.

A Neutral Spine.

The position of the spine is commonly discussed in relation to a good posture, with a "neutral" spine position being the ideal.

A neutral spine is when the all the vertebrae are in a natural position, under the minimal amount of stress.

Front/back view of a neutral spine.

When seen from the front or back all vertebrae in a neutral spine appear completely vertical i.e. they are aligned on the median plane.

the median plane

The skull and spine seen from the back and front.  All vertebrae are vertically aligned so that a straight line can be drawn from head to tailbone through the middle of each vertebra. This is a neutral spine position.

The nuchal and supraspinous ligaments that attach to the posterior (back) of the spine are also aligned.

nuchal & supraspinous ligaments

From a side view, a neutral spine is curved.

  • The cervical (neck) spine curves inward.
  • The thoracic (upper back) spine curves outwards.
  • The lumbar (lower back) spine curves inward.
  • The sacrum curves outwards.
  • The coccyx (tailbone) is almost on the vertical.
Skull and spine seen from the side demonstrating the curvature of a neutral spine. The cervical vertebrae curve inwards with the nuchal ligament at the posterior. The thoracic vertebrae curve outwards, the lumbar vertebrae curve inwards and the sacrum curves outwards with the coccyx on the vertical.

The Main Muscles of Movement Create a Neutral Spine.

For a neutral spine, the rectus abdominis muscles need to be "long and strong", fully extended and taking the strain between pelvis and chest. If the rectus abdominis muscles are not fully utilised the lateral abdominal, psoas and other muscles of the lower back bear the burden which has negative effects on the positioning of the lumbar spine.

The gluteus maximus positions the sacrum, linking the base of the spine to the pelvis.

The trapezius muscles must be free of physical restrictions to allow the correct positioning of the thoracic and cervical spine and alignment of the nuchal and supraspinous ligaments.

skeleton seen from the side. Showing the rectus abdominis muscles at the front of the abdomen between pelvis and chest, like a band of muscle that is attached to bone either end but otherwise is not near other bones. These are the muscles that should support the body, not the spine. When the rectus abdominis muscles are fully extended and active the lower spine is positioned correctly and not under undue tension or stress. The rectus femoris muscles run down the front of each thigh, crossing the hip and knee joints. Strong poles of muscle to connect the legs to the torso, aligning the hip and knee joints. The rectus abdominis and rectus femoris muscles attach to the pelvis at the front at approximately the same level when viewed from the side. The gluteus maximus muscles, large and powerful at the back of the pelvis, extending above and below the level of where the rectus abdominis and rectus femoris attach to provide the link between base-line and legs. The trapezius muscles from the back of the head to midback, sculpted muscles that influence the positioning of the upper spine.

Base-Line Classifications of Posture.

An Ideal Posture.

With an ideal posture stresses are distributed and dissipated in the best/safest/most efficient manner for the activity being undertaken. The body is as strong as it can be.

There are many disciplines that represent ideal postures, demonstrations of the body's capabilities when it is functioning at optimal. For example:

  • The asanas of yoga - snapshots of the body with a full range of natural movement. Poses that can be perfected when the body is truly balanced.
  • Pilates, tai chi and other internal martial arts, ballet, other forms of dancing - all demonstrating the grace and freedom of movement possible with dynamic alignment.
showing a lot of poses of the body, some asanas of yoga.

A Functional Posture.

A 'functional posture' is what the brain/body uses day-to-day when an ideal posture cannot be achieved. (When the main muscles of movement are not adequately used and physical restrictions are present on the body).

A functional posture at its most basic:

  • Keeps our eyes level (maintaining horizontal equilibrium in visual input).
  • Keeps us facing/moving forward.
  • Puts the body in a position to do the task at hand.
  • Adjusts body position to bear external stresses as they are applied.

Subconscious adjustments are made throughout the body - twists, kinks, tilts and compressions - as the brain sees fit, using the 'wrong muscles' in an attempt to compensate for misusage in the main muscles, but the body is imbalanced and imbalance leads to further imbalance.

Anticipatory Posture.

When faced with a task, the brain/body prepares by activating muscles into an anticipatory posture. "Bracing yourself".

An anticipatory posture should be the ideal posture for the activity - using the main muscles of movement to their full potential - but if that is not achievable the body braces into a functional posture with the use of other muscles that attempt to mimic the action of the main muscles.

Becoming aware of anticipatory postures and the activation of the wrong muscles is an important step in correcting the dysfunction. Breathing with your Base-Line and focusing on the location and activity state of the main muscles of movement will facilitate the correction of bad postural habits that have developed.

breathing with your Base-Line

It takes time and effort to improve your posture, things only you can provide. Think of how you are put together and what level of body awareness you have.

Optimising the use of your muscles = Better health.

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