By Tarannum Nasser
Optimal Alignment- simply put, is the stacking of the joints in a way that creates ease of movement. When joints are in alignment, they create space between them (decompress) and generate comfort and mobility in the body. Well-aligned joints can prevent unnecessary wear and tear in our bodies.
We sometimes learn about incorrect posture and alignment from well-meaning people in our lives. We are often told to sit up straight, such as: “Pull your shoulder blades together “ or “ lift your chest,” which we’ve all heard and used at some point in our lives. These don’t seem to be problematic at first glance. They feel harmless, but when these cues become our habits, they can leave behind long-term compensations like joint pain and discomfort. The effects of these cues can alter our alignment, leading to posture and movement deficiencies. When we pull our shoulder blades together initially, it feels like we are using good form, or perhaps it keeps us from feeling slouched. Over time the muscles that pull the shoulder blades together can fatigue, resulting in tightness in the upper back and neck tension, discomfort and joint pain—squeezing or tightening any group of muscles for an extended period can eventually cause pain and tightness. And can also cause other joints in the body to overwork.
CHANGING OUR HABITS
The most common habits are “pulling your shoulder blades together “ or “lifting your chest,” as well as” pulling in your belly button to your spine” These habits can make us look better, less slumped or perhaps more erect. Sometimes we pull our tummy muscles in so that we may feel like our core muscles are working. These habits can lead to neck pain and low back pain and can alter how we breathe. Replacing these habits with more beneficial ones can relax the tight muscles and restore alignment and lengthen the body. Here are some helpful tips to help you find the best alignment. Try “widening the collar bones.” or “lengthening from the back of your head. “Relaxing your tummy muscles” Inhaling and exhaling through the nose can also help prevent tightness and discomfort.
HOW TO BREATHE
Take a scarf or a yoga strap and wrap it around your chest.
Hold it firmly as you try to inhale into the chest area; keep your arms relaxed
It may take a few gentle breaths to feel the movement of the chest area. Slow down your breath; maintain a slow, gentle inhale and exhale.
Practice this a few times a day. You will begin to feel yourself breathing into the side and the back ribs. Finally, try and feel your breath from your chest to your hips which is the best way to decompress your body and protect your joints.
BENEFITS OF CHANGING OUR HABITS
Keep our joints flexible
Feel less tightness in our joints.
About the Author
Tarannum Nasser is the principle owner of Toronto Pilates and Integrative Movement. She is a Pilates instructor and an Integrative Movement Specialist, with 16 years of experience in her field.
Her keen interest in how the body moves brings her Pilates sessions to the next level.
Subscribe to her informative newsletters at www.tpim.ca.