In the posture of the human form, misalignments literally reduce the height of our musculoskeletal system. They lead to imbalances in the way we use our muscles and place undue stress on our joints. So our moms urging to stand up straight had quite a lot of merit. However, there’s more to this complex challenge than that.
We find our way into misaligned posture because of the way we physically engage our bodies as well as our emotional interpretation of our experiences. The compensations create some degree of collapse as they pull our frame into transverse strains rather than elongating us from the center down and center up. So having the flexibility to align our skeleton and then lengthen engages the stabilizers that make us strong. This is the reason why joint mobility is so crucial to maintain. If we lack in this area, we become misaligned to a point where we lose our strength from the inside out.
A practice of self-massage and stretching exercise like yoga can help reconnect with the activation of your core from which the body can be lengthened into stronger positions on either end. Start out by releasing the front hip and thigh using foam rolling on the front and outer thigh and stretching the hip (also see “Stuck with Tight Hips”). It’s necessary to engage your core muscles to lengthen your spine off this stable center and root down through to the feet (see “Refine Your Center”).
The more the tightness of the joints is released and alignment is restored we can accompany this position by lengthening from the center. The muscle and fascial system’s natural engagement when our skeleton can fall back into place and is stretched long is to become more stable. If we lack perfect alignment, even the act of lengthening from our center will produce results. However, the greater the alignment as we lengthen, the greater the strength potential. Be mindful of this as you go to your next yoga class or engage in a stretching session. You’ll enjoy the benefits of releasing tension and simultaneously teaching the body to behave in a more powerful way!