Proper Spinal Alignment for Physical Activity & Peak Performance
by Brian Klepacki, Ultima Replenisher Performance Expert I’m sure you’ve heard about all the negative effects associated with poor posture and forward head position (FHP a.k.a texting neck). And if you truly care about your health and your wellness then it’s vital for you to fix this common issue but what’s even more important is the role proper alignment has on physical activity and athletic performance. Good posture is seen to have many advantages. From an aesthetic point of view it can enhance image, sending out the right signals (body language). Studies show that first impressions are formed within 30 seconds of acquaintance, with body language as a major determining factor. Strong, neutral posture can contribute to: ➢ Improved Appearance ➢ Increased Confidence ➢ Improved Social Skills ➢ Improved Lung Capacity ➢ Improved Motor Control ➢ Improved Range of Motion ➢ Decreased Change of Injury
Efficient movement = good posture
So we know that good posture appears to promote efficient movement, balance, and control. At the same time it is the ability for efficient movement that promotes good posture. Did you catch that? Efficient movement = good posture and good posture = efficient movement. Good posture is an indication of poise and consequently poor posture is a sign of lost poise. A poised athlete moves freely with minimal effort and is not pulled out of shape by excessive muscle tension. The athlete without poise uses inappropriate muscle action in all activities, including the exercises prescribed to correct their current posture. FHP can be seen in this side-by-side comparison picture here.
Thanks to portable technology and more jobs requiring the human body to be forced into unnatural positions, our posture is jeopardized and it will lead to destruction. When the body is in proper alignment, things work correctly. Think about the tires on your car. If the front end is out of alignment, it will pull the entire vehicle one direction or another all while wearing the tread of your tires unevenly. According to the Posture Committee of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (1947), “good posture is the state of muscular and skeletal balance which protects the supporting structures of the body against injury or progressive deformity irrespective of the attitude in which these structures are working or resting”. Posture is also the manifestation of attitude. Exercises designed to strengthen the weak postural muscles do not get to the cause of the problem. If a muscle (muscular) is weak, it is most likely through lack of use if not activated due to a faulty movement pattern (neurological). If you don’t use it, you lose it!
A muscle can also appear weak if it is habitually held tight because further contraction is not possible, just like what takes place in the neck and upper back with FHP. Our shape is a result of an intricate balancing act involving every muscle of the body. The task of trying to achieve balance by working on individual groups of muscle is not only time-consuming but pointless. Exercises designed to aid athletes and those looking to improve performance (we’ve all heard the phrase ‘functional training’) could therefore, have the unexpected side effect of restricting movement if not done correctly. On the other side of the coin, when the correct method of treatment is implemented then and only then will the body be able to perform at it’s peak. It’s easy to do the correct method incorrectly or the incorrect method correctly.
Brian Klepacki is the official Performance Expert for Ultima Replenisher and writes in-depth training articles on a monthly basis. Brian earned his Master’s Degree in Exercise Science with a focus in Strength & Conditioning. He also holds many highly recognized certifications that set him apart from others. Brian owns Optimax Performance Training and has a strong following in St. Petersburg, Florida where he resides with his wife and 2 sons.