Hi There HHF Fans!
I have watched many athletes, gym rats, weekend warriors, and your average fitness enthusiasts work out in gyms, outside at boot camps, or just running down the street. And, I’ve got to tell you – you won’t believe all the flailing, flopping, stomping, wobbling, teetering, leaning, swinging, swooshing, swishing and swooping around I see! YIKES!
Any time your body (or a body part) is out of alignment, especially in motion, bones, joints, tendons, ligaments, fascia, muscle tissue, nerves are put at risk.
It is scary that so many people are unaware of the fundamental & foundational stances and movements required for good posture, balance, alignment, and breathing during exercise. These basics are not just for good form, function, and fitness – but for safety! Further, when you add weight or resistance you are at greater risk for muscular-skeletal problems, pinched nerves, and reduced blood flow. Welcome hyper-extension, sprains, tissue tears, pain & inflammation!
First of all, most people don’t even STAND up straight, let alone move with grace and agility. If YOU stand around like “Zorro” , like the letter “Z”, you are making your body into a zig-zag shape! Zorro people stand by leaning with one hip sticking out to the side, their head flopped sideways at “10 or 2” on a clock, and their arms crossed in front at the chest. Leaning to one side causes your weight to press that heel of that leg into the ground, your butt cheek to sag, and the posterior cruciate ligament (behind the knee) to be hyper-extended, pulling the knee cap backwards with it. So much undue pressure is put upon the now S-shaped spine and the jutting hip bone. Further, the weight of your head when tilted causes the neck muscles to become weak, and the carotid arteries are pinched on one side and pulled taut on the other, impairing blood flow to the brain. Add to this- slouching shoulders, which causes the head & chest to fall forward, making your Adam’s apple press to your collarbone, and push the ribs into the diaphragm. The throat and diaphragm are now being smooshed – further hampering breathing. You are now are suffering from oxygen deprivation! And you wonder why you are tired and have brain fog?
Years of this kind of “mis-alignment” leads to a mindless condition I call:
“Kinesthetic Amnesia”. That means that after many years of standing, sitting, or working out with sloppy posture, sloppy posture FEELS SO NORMAL to us that we don’t even feel it! We are completely unaware this is actually so ABNORMAL!! Lack of mindfulness, focus and care are the real reasons we have back, knee, hip, neck, and shoulder problems. We are hunched, crunched, scrunched, and bunched up!
When I have my students straighten up, align their joints properly, and balance themselves with even weight distribution, it is actually difficult and uncomfortable because they have to use muscles they never used before! I have them focus on using their CORE muscles in their abs, pelvis, lower back, and hips for greater strength and stability. I teach them how to FEEL them working! The more focus, the better the results!
So, for your health and safety, I am going to set you straight! Literally!!
1st: Stand with your feet hip width apart, toes forward and even across the top. (NO Duck feet!) Hands are by your sides , palms facing out.
Adjust your weight distribution 50-50, (BALANCE).
2nd: Elongate your spine -like a puppet on a string. Face and eyes forward. Make sure your nose , chin, and sternum (breastbone) are all in a row (ALIGNMENT) chin parallel with horizon (don’t look down or up). This opens the throat.
3rd : Open your chest by lifting your ribcage up and lightly pulling your shoulder blades back and down, and then gently squeeze them together. This uses your lats , traps, rear deltoids, & rhomboids. Lifting the chest, gives space to your diaphragm which allows you to breathe more air into you! It also makes you look tall, confident, and gorgeous! (POSTURE). Pretend you have a pole that goes from the crown of your head through your body and out your crotch to the ground. (Like the Ballerina in a music box).
4th : Take a deep Inhale through your nose down to your belly (diaphragm) then Exhale slowly. At first, you may exhale through your mouth. But you will eventually do your all breathing in and out of your nose. (BREATHING).
Putting all four of these structural and functional components together, (Posture, Balance, Alignment, and Breathing) BEFORE and DURING your workout is crucial. You will greatly reduce and most likely avoid the risk of injury. Check your form in a mirror first. Watching yourself is called “Visual Acuity”. You SEE that you are doing it right. But I teach my students how to know they are in the best possible form by learning “Kinesthetic AWARENESS”. They know they are in proper posture, balance and alignment from how it FEELS- without having to look in a mirror! This is a much higher level of physical and mental awareness that brings them to the peak of their game! I urge YOU to learn and practice these foundational strengths, before you begin your cardio and strength training. Then continue to hold yourself tall, strong, and beautiful always- everywhere you go! Your neck, your back, your knees, your muscles and joints will all thank you!
Live Happy & Healthy!
Andrea Hammer, CFT
Certified Fitness Trainer