Blog#30: Stand Tall and Breathe!
Two essentials for health and vitality are often overlooked: posture and breath. Humans have evolved to stand upright despite the fact that standing on only two limbs poses unique challenges to the musculoskeletal system, especially the spinal column. Everything musculoskeletal is connected. Feet are the foundation – if flat, deformed, injured, everted (turned outward) or inverted (turned inward) then legs, thighs, hips, pelvis, and spine will all be adversely affected. Unstable, injured knees can lead to spinal problems, as can poor articulation in one or both hip joints. The coccyx (tail bone) or sacrum (bony structure just above the coccyx and below the lumbar vertebrae) can also be tipped too far forward or backward or otherwise twisted and misaligned. Any of these foundational problems can adversely affect the spinal column. Spinal subluxations (minor, but sometimes persistent misalignments of the vertebrae) can also be problematic. These subluxations can be due to injury, poor posture, birth defects and other problems. All the above postural challenges can lead to discomfort, injuries, compromise of blood or lymph circulation, neurological dysfunction, and even sub-optimal health of internal organs, including the brain. You might find it interesting to experiment with standing or sitting posture. Notice how slouching compromises your breathing and energy level. Diminished energy level can lead to rigidity or limitation when facing life’s challenges. Depression can sometimes result from chronic poor posture. Now notice how much better you feel when you sit or stand with spine straight, pelvis slightly tucked in (if standing). Also beneficial to your spine and well-being while sitting is keeping your legs and feet flat on the floor and extended out in front of the chair, not tucked underneath the chair.
Optimal breathing is also essential for good health and high energy. Many people hold abdomen, diaphragm and chest tight and tense when they breathe, and because of this, they barely manage to bring in enough oxygen to function. Instead of breathing from the abdomen and then allowing the chest and lungs to fill, they only breathe with the chest, cutting off the lower torso as a center for activity and a reservoir for life energy. Watch how professional singers breathe from the lower abdomen and then let the chest and lungs fill. Abdominal and chest muscles, including the diaphragm, the large muscle that separates and also connects the chest and abdomen, can function as life and energy enhancers or suppressors, depending on whether they are relaxed and dynamic or tense and stuck. These muscles help circulate blood and lymph and also massage the internal organs in the abdomen and chest as they move. Virtually everyone can learn to breathe more efficiently with practice. I recommend spending at least five to ten minutes every day breathing from the lower abdomen. Often, it is easiest to breathe this way supine (lying face up) so that position can sometimes be the best way to begin. Eventually, it will become natural to breathe with the abdomen while sitting standing, and walking.
This month’s offer: the same as last month’s: contact me with questions about your posture and breathing and I will meet with you free of charge for fifteen minutes and give you some suggestions for improvement.